Tonight marks the opening game of this years NBA playoffs and for the second time in three years, Rajon Rondo – former Kentucky Wildcat – finds himself poised to capture another ring. The series begins in LA, where Boston will look to steal at least one of two from the Lakers before coming home for a three game home stretch. But you all knew this. What you might not have known, is how vital Rondo is to this series.
Two years ago, the Celtics were slowly becoming Rondo’s team. At this point, while many will say that the most dominant games still come from Pierce, Allen, or Garnett (and they would be right,) the team is fairly capable of winning even when one of ‘the big three’ has an off night. When Rondo has an off night, the Celtics are in trouble. I mean, his back up is Nate people-only-remember-me-for-taking-18-attempts-in-a-dunk-contest Robinson, after all. Rondo is the single most important player to the Celtics in this series, and he is good enough to win it for them. He has the keys to the championship in his gym bag right now.
In fact, this Lakers team is exactly the kind of team that could fall victim to Rondo’s mastery of the round ball. In both of the regular season games between the two clubs, Rondo was Boston’s best player. In the one point loss to the Lakers in January, Rondo finished with a Godly 21 points, 12 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. In the one point victory over LA in February, he had a measly 14, 11, 5 and 5. A double double for both games, and that was before the Celtics started peaking, like they are now.
The fact of the matter is, LA has no one that can guard Rondo. Unless you’re going to put Kobe on him (and leave Paul Pierce open) no matter how much I like Fisher, there is no way he stays in front of Rondo. When Kobe was healthy and did draw some of the Rondo assignment in their first meeting, the Lakers fell victim to his 21 and 12 performance. Still, the regular season series was split, and only won by one point each time. Kobe seems to be back in top shape, as do the Celtics. It should be a great series. And one that could be decided by a former Wildcat.
Get used to it folks.
Who you got?