BOSTON (CBS) — Rajon Rondo showed the Celtics that he is still capable of finding an extra gear come playoff time.
The Bulls point guard found that gear in the team’s Game 2 win over the Celtics at the TD Garden on Tuesday night, picking his former team apart to the tune of 11 points, 14 assists, and 9 rebounds in a vintage Rondo performance. The game was reminiscent of Rondo’s playoff career with the Celtics, which culminated with his 17.3 points and NBA-best 11.9 assists per game in the 2012 postseason.
Running plays at will and facilitating well for his teammates, Rondo played with the kind of poise and precision that Celtics fans grew familiar with during the first five seasons of the point guard’s career. After a lackluster pair of playoff games with the Dallas Mavericks in 2015, those days appeared to be in the past for Rondo. That was not the case on Tuesday night.
Rondo said after the game that he simply wanted to keep the aggression ramped up against Isaiah Thomas in Game 2 after getting into foul trouble in Game 1.
“I just tried to stay aggressive,” said Rondo, via CSNNE’s A. Sherrod Blakely. “Isaiah is a really crafty guy and I just wanted to go out and play as hard as I could.”
Celtics guard Avery Bradley said that Rondo’s performance may have brought the team down emotionally during the game – and Rondo took notice.
“I looked around and a few times in the game guys were putting their heads down, I think getting down on themselves. But as a team, we have to stay together,” said Bradley, via CBS Boston Sports’ Brian Robb. “The other team is looking at that. They’re using that as motivation for themselves.
“I could even hear Rondo, like, ‘Yeah, they gave up. They gave up.’ But you never can let a team see that. You have to continue to be positive and go out there and play hard, no matter what the outcome is.”
Celtics fans must hope that Rondo’s comments to his teammates aren’t true, because last night’s loss had to sting – and the C’s have little chance of coming back if they can’t regain their confidence in a hurry.