The first game of the New Year also marked the first game for Rajon Rondo against his former team. Celtics fans are familiar with the "National TV Rondo" version of their departed captain, having often seen him step up in big games. Think Rondo's first trip back to Boston since being traded away last month qualifies as a big game? Clearly he did.
Rondo got off to a blazing start by driving by Kelly Olynyk for the game's opening basket on his way to scoring the first 10 points for the Mavericks. He hit his first 7 shots in the first half after only making more than 6 field goals in a game once all year with the Celtics. Rondo also drilled a career-high 5 three-pointers, including one to beat the buzzer just before the half. Rondo finished with 29 points in the game, which is the most he has scored in a game since January, 2013 - which was prior to the knee injury that sidelined him that year.
Rondo outscored the combined total of all three of the players he was traded for. Jameer Nelson contributed the most out of that trio, but managed only 7 points on 2-for-9 shooting and failed to record an assist. Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright added little to the stat sheet in their limited time on the court. Maybe they are saving their revenge game for the next time they are in Dallas.
Just as they did in their last meeting with the Mavericks, Boston rode a big fourth quarter to make a lopsided affair look a bit more competitive. Just like last time, it wasn't enough to keep up with the Maverick's league-leading offense. Avery Bradley burst out with 17 of his team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter
The Celtics entered the game 3-0 when Evan Turner started the game at point guard. That streak came to an end tonight, but Turner did contribute 9 points and 3 assists in 21 minutes tonight. Marcus Smart came off the bench to add a game-high 7 assists to set a new career high for the rookie.
Boston has now lost their last 27 consecutive games against the top-8 Western Conference teams and have lost both meetings against Dallas this season.
The highlight of the night may have been the touching tribute video for Rondo shown to the TD Garden crowd after the first quarter. While Rondo tried to hide his emotions and focus on the game, he was clearly appreciative of the crowd's response. Then of course he responded by putting on his own highlight show against his former team. He may not be doing it in a Celtics uniform anymore, but it's hard not to be impressed when Rondo puts on a vintage performance like he did tonight.