Starting with Rajon Rondo, Doc Rivers can sense ‘momentum rolling’ for Celtics
|05.07.12 at 11:59 am ET|
When arguably your best player is playing his best, your going to have great results.
Such was the case again Sunday night when Rajon Rondo didn’t need a triple-double but just 20 points and 16 assists to help the Celtics throttle the overmatched Hawks, 101-79, in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the Garden.
What made Rondo’s night so special is what he did in getting others involved early and often.
He found Paul Pierce twice in the first quarter to get the captain rolling on his way to 24 points in 16 injury-shortened minutes. He found Avery Bradley for a corner three. He fed Kevin Garnett with a perfect pass on an alley-oop dunk. He fed Ray Allen for a wide open 16-footer.
‘That’s Rondo being Rondo,” Pierce said. “He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA. He has the confidence and controls the game, tonight you saw him doing it offensively with his shooting. We already know he’s the best passer in the game and offensively he just picked up the slack.”
And he even found it in his heart to fedd Greg Stiemsma for a layup. Seven assists in the first quarter as Rondo had the Celtics off and running.
As great as Rondo is, his coach doesn’t always have a feel when a great game like Sunday is coming from his point guard.
‘I did not,” Doc Rivers said. “There are days though, that you sense it, and then most of the time you’re wrong. I didn’t sense that; I did sense that we were ready to play. You know, that’s obviously the best we’ve played so far in the playoffs. I sensed that, but other than that, it was just ‘ it started rolling. You could feel it. You can feel the momentum rolling on our side. And we made a lot of shots. When you make shots like that, and you defend like that, it’s tough to be beat.’
And what did Rondo think of his fast start that took the heart out of the Hawks?
‘That’s my mindset every game,” Rondo said. “We were in a good rhythm, a good flow, but it started with all five guys getting defensive stops and that allowed us to get out into the break, get into an easy rhythm, get a couple easy layups and it triggered from there. I just wanted to come out with the right mindset and play the right way, get my teammates involved, made a couple passes I got them easy looks, and got them in a rhythm and coach kept telling me to stay aggressive and when they went in just try to shoot the ball.
Rondo only had three rebounds but Rivers really didn’t care. He actually felt Rondo’s 34 minutes of domination were better than Friday’s triple-double in 49 minutes.
‘Yeah, because it was needed more,” Rivers said. “I mean, we had a lot of stuff going on. You may not have noticed, or noticed, but we had a lot of things going on on our bench today with bodies. You know, MP’s (Mickael Pietrus) hamstring, we had to take him out. (Avery Bradley) shoulder, Paul’s knee, Ray’s (Allen) foot. The whole game you just felt like ‘ I mean, you just kept looking down there: was there enough guys to put in the game? So, I was really happy that everybody kept their focus through all the stuff that (trainer) Ed Lacerte had to do on the bench today.’
Rondo certainly made it clear he wants to keep the metal on the pedal on Tuesday in Atlanta, to finish of the series in five games and get rest.
‘We definitely want to try to finish the series out in Atlanta, we don’t want to come back here and play because obviously we need our rest, but we know they aren’t going to lay down so we are gonna go out there, its gonna be a good fight, but at the end of the day we want to try to get a win,” Rondo said.