We still don't understand Rajon Rondo, but maybe we're starting to realize we don't have to.
Whenever Rondo seems to be out of it, in a funk or with his back against a wall, he seems to find a way to remind you of his brilliance. In a tough Game 2 overtime loss to the Miami Heat, Rondo played all 53 minutes while scoring a career-high 44 points to go with eight rebounds and 10 assists. He also added three steals to his totals.
He was everything you could ever want in a point guard. He was magnificent.
While Rondo usually excels at every part of the game but his shooting, he had everything clicking in Miami on Wednesday night. Doing his best (healthy) Ray Allen impersonation, Rondo shot a ridiculous 16-for-24 from the floor. Hitting from everywhere—the paint, outside the paint, 10 of his 12 free throws, both of his three-point attempts—he was sensational.
Boston's heart and soul from beginning to end, he continued to fight, scrap and score until the final buzzer had sounded and his team had gone down 0-2 in the series.
It was an absolutely devastating loss for the Celtics. To not be able to close out a game where your point guard puts in one of the greatest performances in NBA playoff history is brutal. To fall down two games to none to a team as explosive as the Heat is trouble. To waste that performance by Rondo was downright painful.
Speaking of pain, this gritty, gutty performance by Rondo shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The shooting, sure, but the heart? He's been playing with heart as long as he's been playing with a chip on his shoulder. Remember how he was carried off of the court in the 2009 postseason only to say after the game that he was fine and that the bottom of his feet had been hurting?
Rondo is no nonsense. He doesn't have time for pleasantries, injuries or making nice. He has all of the time in the world for the game, though. You need 48 minutes, 53 minutes, damn near an eternity from him to get the win? Throw him out there. He'll give you everything he has.
He might bend over during a timeout, clutch his shorts at the free-throw line while taking a breath or wait an extra moment to get up after he's been tossed to the ground, but he's not going to give in to the pain or exhaustion. He doesn't know how to say no.
When Rondo goes to work, he is deliberate, calculating and precise. He is smarter than you. You might be more talented than him, taller, stronger, more dominant. You will not out-hustle him. Nor will you want it more.
He only sees one thing, and that is the end goal. He doesn't pay attention to anything outside of each possession as it comes, and if you leave him to his own devices, more often than not, he will figure out the best opportunity for his team to finish the possession with two more points added to the scoreboard.
While we should have been surprised at the shooting clinic Rondo put on last night, we also should have expected him to rise up to the challenge. From his days as the brash and bold little brother trying to prove his worth to the big three, Rondo has always trusted in himself and embraced the opportunity to make the rest of us believe.