Celtics coach Doc Rivers described Rajon's performance as,“absolutely sensational.” He continued,“What he’s doing is absolutely unbelievable. The rebounding, the energy he’s playing with. But the stat that doesn’t show was his ball pressure." Cleveland was forced into many last second shots, which helped contribute to their lousy 40.3% shooting from the field, down almost 20% from Game 3. When asked what keyed his incredible effort after the game, Rondo replied, “I just wanted to continue to attack. That’s how we got the lead at first.” Playing all but 1:12 of the game, he was the best player on the hardwood at both ends of the court for nearly the entire game. Now that is saying something with at least five future Hall of Famers in the game (Pierce, KG, Ray, LeBron, and Shaq).
A performance of this magnitude had not occurred in over four decades. Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain are the only other players in NBA playoff history to match Rondo's stat line, scoring 29+ points, grabbing 18+ rebounds and recording 13+ assists in a playoff game. Although most fans are no longer surprised by Rajon's terrific performances after he recorded three triple-doubles in last year's postseason, this was without a doubt his greatest game to date and anyone who was lucky enough to witness it will not soon forget. It's amazing to think that just two seasons ago, Rondo was considered one of the weak links in the team, and now he's the motor that makes the Celtics go. “He’s a point guard now that runs our team and has complete control of our team,” Rivers said. “When we won it (in 2008), he was still learning how to be a point guard. He was still trying to figure out how to help a team win. Now we rely on him to win.” In the first four games this series, Rajon is averaging 21.8 points, 13 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game, all team highs.
Here are my Top 10 Boston Celtics All-Time Playoff Performances:
Honorable Mention: Allen Drops 51 In Marathon of a Game
4/30/2009 (3OT) Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 6
After struggling mightily in the first five games of the series, Ray Allen, one of the best pure shooters of all-time, scored 51 points on the Chicago Bulls. He made 9 of his 18 three point attempts, tying a playoff record shared by Rex Chapman, Vince Carter, and himself when he was in Milwaukee. Unfortunately it was in a losing effort. His 51 points were the second most for a losing team in playoff history. MJ scored 63 on the Celts in the '86 playoffs, but the Bulls couldn't pull off the victory. With the Boston winning tradition, I just couldn't put Ray's game in my top ten.
Without a doubt the most memorable moment in Celtics history. Anyone who follows basketball, even just casually knows this play. It is a constant on greatest play reels and will be for years to come. With Boston down one, Larry Legend stole Isiah Thomas's inbounds pass on the baseline with five seconds in the game, threw it to cutting teammate Dennis Johnson who laid it in, and the rest is history. My justification for it being this low, is that it was an incredible play by Bird, but not an amazing game.
9. Cowens Carries Celts Over Bucks
5/12/74: NBA Finals Game 7
Celtics forward Dave Cowens outscored the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, putting in 28 points and pulling down 14 rebounds. Cowens shot 8 of 13 from the field in the first half. Late in the fourth quarter, Milwaukee pulled to within three points and the big red head picked up his fifth personal foul. Coach Tom Heinsohn took a risk and decided to keep Cowens in the game. Dave then rallied Boston on 8-0 and 11-0 runs to put the game out of reach and secure the Celtics first title in five years.
8. Bird Burns Rockets Twice
6/1/86 & 6/8/86 NBA Finals Games 3 & 6
I couldn't decide which game to pick for Bird, so I chose both. Larry had a great series all around, nearly averaging a triple-double for the series (24.0 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 9.5 APG). Bird also shot 31 of 33 form the foul line combined in the six games. Bird recorded a triple-double in Game 3 with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. Unfortunately, Boston could not pull that one out. However, they did win Game 6, in which he racked up another triple-double. Bird earned his second Finals MVP Award, to go with his regular season MVP trophy.
Down one late in the game, the Philadelphia 76ers looked to inbound the ball for a final shot at the game and the series. However, Boston legend John Havlicek did not let that happen. Havlicek stole Hal Greer's pass to ice the game for the C's and send them to the NBA Finals. Johnny Most's call was one heard around the world, “ Greer is putting the ball in play. He gets it out deep and Havlicek steals it!! Over to Sam Jones...Havlicek stole the ball!! It's all over… It's all over!! " Similar to the Bird steal, I ranked this on the low end as it wasn't a complete game performance, just an exceptional play to win the game.
6. Larry Legend Beats L.A.
6/8/84 & 6/12/84 NBA Finals Games 5
Larry Bird put together his most impressive series in what were seven games for the ages. Celtics vs. Lakers games are always special, but this series really took them to another level. Bird came up especially big in the two most important victories. In Game 5, Larry shot 15 for 20, totalling 34 points, and then repeated his performance in Game 7 with 20 points and 12 boards in the deciding game of the series. Bird averaged 27.4 points and 14.0 rebounds in the seven games, piecing together one of the greatest playoff series of all-time.
5. Rondo Dethrones King James
5/9/10 Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 4
Coming into the game, LeBron James had scored 30+ points in 10 of his last 14 games against the Celtics, but last night Rondo stole the show. Rajon displays his crafty dribbling, dazzling passes, impressive vertical, and general ability to score the ball. I won't repeat all the stats I posted at the start of the article, but the fact that fans were cheering, "M.V.P.! M.V.P.!" when Rajon was on the line at the end of the game WITH LeBron James, the current MVP of the league on the floor really speaks volumes about the performance he had. All hail King Rondo!
4. Paul Pierce Brings the Celtics Back to Victory
5/25/02: Eastern Conference Finals Game 3
3. Havlicek Sets Celtics Record With 54 Points
5/18/08 Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 7
Stephen Bailey 5/10/2010 05:21:00 PM Tweet Edit