Game 7 of the Eastern semi-finals. One could reasonably surmise there aren't many more important games a team can play, right?
So Rondo starts the first half appropriately enough, fairly aggressive, distributing as usual. A B-to-B+ effort; no problem. But from the start of the 2nd half until the moment Paul Pierce fouled out with ~4 minutes left in the game, Rondo was Bad Rondo -- walking the ball up on EVERY possession, last to cross the midline on EVERY possession, throwing the ball away multiple times, and when "distributing" he'd basically throw the ball to someone -- usually Paul or KG -- and then stand around and watch.
This was unbelievable. What, the game wasn't BIG enough for him? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT GUY??? It was (and is) pretty hard to understand.
But Rajon woke up at EXACTLY the moment Paul Pierce fouled out. I remember thinking "Is he gonna get aggressive now? There's nobody left to run the offense anymore. That's HIS DAMN JOB."
And aggressive he got. FINALLY. Cutting to the rim, hitting his jumpers, wreaking havoc on Philly everywhere. Finally, the real Rajon Rondo showed up.
But why only in the game's last 4 minutes? What happened the REST of the time??
Is this some weird competitive, passive/aggressive thing he has going on with Pierce? Is that where Rondo's schizophrenic play comes from? That would seem to be a reasonable conclusion -- because heaven knows, we've seen RR defer to PP at the ends of games MANY times before. Heck, he does it EVERY TIME.
So does Rondo RESENT Pierce for being the "go-to" guy on the team?? When RR defers to PP, does RR then STOP playing his game as some kind of childish attempt to "show the boss" who's really important on this team?
I don't know. I'm totally guessing here. But I know this: RONDO IS ONE WEIRD DUDE. There's no understanding his on-court behavior... not without input from RR himself.
Now this team has to face a really good opponent. I mean Philly was ok, and they're stand-up guys with a lot of heart. But they didn't have the talent. Miami is a whole different animal. They've got the determination, the motivation, and PLENTY of talent.
Without anyone to slow DWade down, I see little hope for the Celtics to stop the Heat (barring some major injury news of course). If Good Rondo shows up for every minute of the ECF, the Celtics might take some games. But the loss of Bradley was probably the last straw for this camel. With the team so decimated, and with real contributions REQUIRED now from the likes of Pietrus, Dooling, Hollins.... it's hard to imagine the Celtics winning the ECF, no matter which version of Rondo shows up.
And then having to face the West? Yikes.
But, still... with these guys.... anything is possible. (where have I heard that before?)
Whatever happens, this team has accomplished a lot. After all the injuries and huge potholes Fate placed on their road, it's a real tribute to their talent and perseverance that they've gotten as far as they have. If they were healthy, I'd have no doubt they'd be in the Finals this year, and could win it all.