NBA Playoffs 2012: What Rajon Rondo Must Do to Lead Celtics Past Heat

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IMay 30, 2012

MIAMI, FL - MAY 28:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics drives in the first half against Mario Chalmers #15 of the Miami Heat in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 28, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Despite the Game 1 loss, the Boston Celtics still have a chance to advance to the NBA Finals by defeating the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.

But to do so, the Celtics need a much better effort from Rajon Rondo.

Since the All-Star break, you can make the case that Rondo's been the best point guard in the NBA as he's been on quite the run. In Rondo's past 48 games, he's failed to reach double-digits in assists only five times and has recorded six triple-doubles (three this postseason).

However, two of Rondo's worst games in that span have come in his past three games, Game 6 in Philadelphia and Monday's Game 1 in Miami.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra won the early chess match against Rondo by throwing different fresh bodies at him, which not only included Mario Chalmers but Dwyane Wade and LeBron James as well. As a result, Rondo turned the ball over four times in the first quarter and looked frustrated all night long.

Yet, if we've learned anything during the regular season and first two rounds of the playoffs, it's that the Celtics go the way Rondo goes and if he's great, the Celtics have a chance.

In two April wins against the Heat, Rondo shredded the Miami defense, averaging 17 points, 14.5 assists and 7.5 rebounds. That's the type of performance that the Celtics need from their All-Star point guard to have a chance to defeat the Heat.

It starts on the offensive end and with his shooting. 

Rondo catches a bad rap for being unable to shoot the ball, but he's a creative scorer who is shooting 45 percent from the floor in the postseason. The 8-of-20 effort he turned in throughout Game 1 isn't going to cut it though.

He needs to not only get to the rim, but Rondo has to finish as well. If he does, then it has a trickle-down effect. 

This keeps the Heat defense honest as they have to pay even more attention to him.

There's also the fact that the Celtics feed off his energy. When he's frustrated, the rest of the team seems frustrated, but when Rondo brings energy and confidence, it's contagious to the rest of the team.

Once the ball starts going in for the Celtics, everything else seems to take care of itself. 

For the Celtics to defeat the Heat, Rondo must not only be the quarterback of the Boston offense, but he must do it at an MVP level at both ends of the floor, especially with Ray Allen struggling so badly.

That's a lot of pressure to put on Rondo, but one thing is for sure, if he doesn't take his game to another level, the Celtics' season will come to a quick end.