One year later, the Miami Heat’s most troublesome threat in the Eastern Conference has never been so determined to deliver LeBron James and Dwyane Wade the cruelest of losses. Privately, Rajon Rondo has never stopped thinking about redemption. Three hundred sixty-five days ago, Rondo lay on his back, the pain shooting out of a dislocated elbow, and listened to Kevin Garnett screaming to him on the Boston Garden floor, “Breathe! … Breathe!” His elbow was out, the season was shot.
What everyone witnessed – the doctor jamming that left elbow back into its socket and Rondo turning a six-week regular-season injury into a six-minute playoff detour -– goes down into Celtics lore. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge called it the most amazing thing he’d ever witnessed with an athlete. Coach Doc Rivers called it “beyond courageous.” Rondo returned in that Game 3, beat the Heat with one arm and, yet, ultimately, had to be forced to sit out the night the Celtics were eliminated.
One year later on Sunday night, outside his Boston Garden office, Rivers was asked: Do you still wonder what would’ve happened had Rondo never gone down in the Miami series?
“Yeah, I do,” Rivers told Yahoo! Sports.
The East is clearing out for the Heat, but Rondo, the slightest star in stature, still cuts the most threatening figure. Mario Chalmers has grown, but Miami has never had the antidote for him.
Rondo’s rising again, on a tear for months, and he’s still the biggest potential barrier between Miami and a return to the NBA Finals.
Boston’s still the looming issue for Miami because Rondo and Paul Pierce, Garnett and Ray Allen have a run left with them.
LeBron James is the best player in these Eastern Conference playoffs, but Rondo controls a basketball game like no one but else but James. All these threats to the Heat in the East have crumbled, but Rondo remains. And, rest assured, he’ll dare the Heat to take him out again. Rondo’s relentless this way. Doc Rivers wondered: What would’ve happened? Well, the Celtics want to find out again. They have one, best chance, and it hasn’t changed for a year. Three hundred sixty-five days later, Rajon Rondo’s still coming for the Miami Heat.
You can click the above link to read the whole column, but Adrian Wojnarowski really nails it with this one. Regular season Rondo might not dominate every night, but as we saw in the 2009 and 2010 playoffs, Rondo can dominate the playoffs like very few can.
Yes, the 1st round isn't over yet and yes we still will need to beat the Bulls or Sixers, but this is Celtics basketball. We think in titles. To win #18 we'll have to Beat The Heat. It's as simple as that. And if LeBron "King With No Ring" wants another shot at getting that 1st of his 7 promised championships, Rondo and Boston stand in his way.
The Heat will be favored, as they should be, but that doesn't mean that they'll prevail. The goal for the Celtics now is to get through these first 2 rounds as healthy as they can. For that reason, finishing the Hawks off in Game 5 is a pretty big deal. In a way many "experts" and Celtics fans were foolish to count out this team's chances. But then again they play best when there are doubters and their backs are against the wall. There is the potential for something great to happen in the next couple months.
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