The NBA Playoffs are where stars are born and where goats die.
On the grandest of all stages, Game 7, Rajon Rondo delivered a leading man’s performance notching his 9th career playoff triple double and powered the Boston Celtics past the pesky Philadelphia 76′ers 85-75 to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
Rondo bounced back from a sub-par Game 6 and posted 18 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 3 steals in Game 7. He also committed 7 turnovers but the Celtics will overlook that for now.
The final 4:15 of the game defined Rondo’s legacy as a member of the Celtics and it was his play that ultimately did the never-say-die 76′ers in.
Boston’s All-Star guard scored 11 of the Celtics final 14 points during that span hitting jumpers including a dagger 3 followed by clutch free throw shooting. All things he usually struggles with.
What made Rondo’s performance so special is that it came when the momentum had swung drastically in favor of the 76′ers. It was at that 4:15 mark that Paul Pierce (15 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks) fouled out on a very questionable offensive foul as Thaddeus Young attempted to slide in front of Pierce’s drive.
The call was stunning and could have given Philadelphia the game as the score was just 71-68 in favor of Boston but it was not meant to be for the 76′ers. Rondo’s shots were the equalizer and provided the final death blow that broke the Philadelphia spirit.
Doc Rivers commented after the game “Rondo wants to run the team, and obviously with Paul (Pierce) out he had to take over.”
As expected the Boston Celtics jumped out to an early lead behind the raucous “Let’s go Celtics” chants from their home crowd. Just as expected, the Celtics could not keep up their early energy and tenacity after carving out an early 10-2 lead. Philadelphia battled back and stayed in it despite rancid shooting percentages most of the game.
Elton Brand scored 15 and Andre Iguodala delivered a team high 18 points including 3 triples and skin tight defense on who ever Doug Collins sicked him on.
Undoubtedly the 76′ers have grown from this experience against the Celtics and have earned respect around the league. The job Collins did to keep this team in the series can not be overstated.
Ray Allen (11 points) hit a couple of clutch 3′s in the final period that the Celtics faithful are hoping will help his confidence going into the next series. Without Avery Bradley, Boston needs Allen to return to his early season form.
Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 13 rebounds in Game 7 and Brand Bass chipped in 16 points. Boston survived this series and now hope to get back to more normal offensive execution against the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
For now Boston has avoided their own obituary and they now return to their more comfortable role of underdog against Miami.
Just how they like it.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com