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Rivers on Rondo: He’s been our Varitek

04.24.10 at 5:13 pm ET
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MIAMI — Lost in the dramatics of Paul Pierce’s game-winner, Ray Allen’s Game 2 explosion and even Tony Allen’s brilliant defense on Dwyane Wade in Game 1 has been the stellar play of Rajon Rondo.

Through three games Rondo has averaged just 11.7 points, but that never tells the full story with him. He’s also getting 10 assists a nights and 6.3 rebounds, but again, numbers can’t define Rondo.

Rather, it’s been his ability to run the offense for over 40 minutes a night that has been the catalyst for the Celtics offensive execution.

“He’s been terrific,” Doc Rivers said. “When everyone was injured, literally, Rondo had to do a lot of scoring. But since Ray and Paul and Kevin [Garnett] are back and in rhythm, he’s more of the facilitator. But he does the best job of a guy you could ask to do it. He’s been huge in this series.”

Take the closing minute of Game 3. On the possession before Pierce’s jumper, Rondo had two options at his disposal: Allen coming off a flare screen with Garnett, or Pierce on the opposite side. He chose Allen for a corner 3 and it was a great look, it just didn’t go in.

Heat coach Erik Spolestra had some media people shaking their heads after Game 3 when he said that the reason the Celtics were so tough to defend is because they have so many crunch-time options. In other words, didn’t he know the final play was going to Pierce? Well, no. He didn’t. See the previous possession.

It’s that decision-making that has lifted Rondo’s game into the upper stratosphere of elite point guards.

“He’s light years [ahead of where he was], but a lot of that is just age, maturity,” Rivers said. “The other part of it is system. He’s been in the same system his entire career. I thought Game 3 was the best play-calling game in his career. He was like [Jason] Varitek as far as calling the right pitch. He was phenomenal. That’s where he’s improved. He know what I’m thinking. He’ll call a play and you can sit down and it’s terrific.”

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