The 2012 conference finals are now well underway, as Rondo and several other key superstars on each team will be especially important in pushing their teams to the NBA Finals.
These are Rondo and the most critical players on each team remaining in the 2012 NBA playoffs.
Boston Celtics: Rajon Rondo
Each time Rondo has come to play for the Celtics, they have had opportunities to take down the Miami Heat.
After a poor Game 1 showing from the league-elite PG, Rondo went off for 44 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in Game 2. The performance was the only one of its kind in NBA postseason history and arguably the most impressive in Celtics history.
His ability to push the pace in Game 3 had his team holding a double-digit lead throughout the second half. He was able to get teammates in their sweet spots and force the issue in the paint. As a result, the Celtics offense was clicking on all cylinders and had the Heat guessing throughout.
His ability to put pressure on the Heat defense is the key to this series for Boston.
San Antonio Spurs: Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili has been just short of sensational this postseason, putting forth a couple of clutch performances in Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Finals.
He has made fourth-quarter runs that have propelled the Spurs to victory, in spite of tremendous performances from both Tim Duncan and Tony Parker along the way. In the Game 3 loss, the Spurs were missing his production and, as a result, were beaten handily.
The Spurs go as Ginobili does. His ability to dictate the pace of the game will be critical in Game 4 at Oklahoma City.
Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade
In the two games the Boston Celtics decided to double-team Dwyane Wade, he has struggled mightily. More importantly, so have the Heat.
In spite of winning Game 2, the Heat looked sluggish for the better part of the game. Game 3 was even harder to watch for Miami fans, as they again they were outplayed in the final minutes.
However, it was two straight baskets from Wade in the third quarter of Game 2 that set off a Heat run to take over the lead and ultimately win the contest.
His play is outright critical to the success of the Miami Heat this postseason.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant
Over the last three games against the Spurs, Durant has had the quietest 80 points he has had all season long.
In spite of scoring the ball well this series, he has done it without making much of an impact on the outcome of the game. Time and time again, Durant has faded in the second half of play.
In the two losses, Durant was mediocre at best in the fourth quarter. In Game 1, he posted just two points for the team. In Game 2, he posted six points on six free throws yet failed to hit a single shot from the field.
Make no mistake about it, Durant's play has been especially solid through three games. Yet as the leader of this team, his play has to improve down the stretch.