Rajon Rondo made headlines by claiming the Boston Celtics were able to hang 61 points on the Miami Heat in the first half of Sunday's Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals because Miami players were "crying to referees" rather than getting back in transition. He wasn't wrong — more than once, Heat players (including stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade) failed to bust it back and prevent an odd-man rush — but Rondo's comments still ignore a pretty important reason for the offensive onslaught.
Namely, that Boston's point guard has gone from "capable of making ridiculous plays" to "routinely making the ridiculous seem reasonable," as he did throughout Boston's series-evening 93-91 overtime victory, and as he did with this sublime second-quarter setup to a cutting Paul Pierce.
ESPN play-by-play man Mike Breen called the dish, which came right on the heels of an excellent lob to Kevin Garnett for an and-one dunk, "another beauty" from the Celtics point guard. Breen's broadcast colleague, color commentator and former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy, quickly said that descriptor didn't do Rondo's dime justice.
"He is throwing the ball on that bounce pass to a spot on the floor that few can see," said Van Gundy, who went on to call the pass something that "anyone else in this league can't do right now."
There are other point guards in the league capable of deftly threading the needle, of course — memories of pinpoint deliveries from Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Chris Paul spring to mind — but none of those guys are playing right now. And frankly, even if they were around and playing at peak form, we'd be talking about prospective peers for Rondo rather than superiors.
The level Rondo's operating at right now — 35 assists against just eight turnovers in the past three games, commanding an offense that has surprisingly outperformed Miami's much more vaunted unit for most of the last three games (while certainly capable of stalling out for stretches, like during Sunday's 12-point third quarter) and, perhaps most importantly of all, bringing that elite focus and effort consistently — is special. He's not only seeing things before they happen; he's seeing things that don't even seem like they could happen, and then making them happen.
From his marvelous Game 2 through Sunday night, he's been a joy to watch, a wellspring of blink-and-you'll-miss-it brilliance. Luckily, they're filming these things, so we can watch again and again.
Is the clip above not working for you? Please feel free to peruse the pass elsewhere, thanks to 1jzo.