I'll be honest, I knew Playoff Rondo was an absolute monster and someone who always seemed to rise to the occasion under the brightest lights, but I had no idea he was tied with Larry Legend in playoff triple doubles. I am a firm believer if you do anything for this team that puts you in the same sentence as Larry Bird, that's big time. So while last week we relived his heroic performance against the Heat after Dwyane Wade pulled that shady as hell move and dislocated his elbow, seeing this tweet this morning not only made me nostalgic as hell, but also gave me the desire to dive into just how much of a beast Playoff Rondo was. It's not ground breaking news, but what else are we going to do today? Why not relive one of the best Celtics in franchise history, which in my opinion is exactly who Playoff Rondo was.
During his tenure in Boston, Rajon Rondo played in 5 postseasons. He put up a very respectable 14/6.0/9.2/2.0 on 44.5% shooting with a 106 Ortg and 102 Drtg. Now, that doesn't exactly tell the whole story because his first appearance he was obviously the young point guard on the 2008 team, where his main role was just to make sure everyone else touched the ball. He was the perfect point guard for that roster, but his 10.2/4.1/6.6 averages bring things down a little bit. His Game 6 performance that year in the Finals was still awesome though, 21/7/8 with 6 steals. It was for sure a preview of what was to come.
As he became more of a focal point of the offense, Rondo seemed to step it up in the playoffs ever season. Remember, this was a guy that averaged for the most part around 11-13 points a year during the bulk of his Celtics seasons. The we got to the playoffs
Remember that amazing 2009 first round series against the Bulls? The one where Derrick Rose was unstoppable, Ray Allen shot lights out and it was as stressful a series as you can have? People forget Rondo averaged 19.4/9.3/11.6/2.7 on 45/44% splits that series. Every game seemed to be better than the last, whether it was his 29/9/7 in Game 1
His 28/8/11 in Game 5
shit, even when he shot poorly like in Game 6 he still finished with 8/9/19
The in 2010 against CLE, you know the series that shipped LeBron out of town, there was the time Rondo threw up 29/18/13 in a huge Game 4
in 2010-11 we saw the casual 15/11/20 game against the Knicks in what was a quick 4 game sweep. That's only the 5th highest single assist game in playoff history. Oh, he also has the 4th highest with 21 as a member of the Pelicans so he's clearly not a one time wonder.
In his final playoff season in Boston in 2011-12 it's hard to pick a favorite game because in my opinion this was his best playoff run as a member of the Celtics. He had just 3 games out of 19 with single digit assists, maybe you prefer the 44/8/10 in Game 2 against MIA
maybe you prefer that 13/12/17 against the Sixers in the opener Round 2 (a second round playoff loss in PHI? No way!) or maybe the 18/10/10 he had in the clinching Game 7
In my lifetime I can't remember a Celtic player consistently putting up these type of numbers during the playoffs, when defenses are supposed to get tougher and the pressure is at an all time high. It was this weird dynamic where no matter what Rondo did in the regular season, no matter what you thought of him as a shooter, every single Celtics fan knew that once the playoffs started Rondo was going to go to this unreal level. Then he got hurt and not long after was traded to DAL as the Celtics rebuild process was fully under way.
To this day Rondo is 13th all time in postseason assists in NBA history and 3rd all time in Celtics history trailing only Larry Bird and Bob Cousy. Call me crazy, but those are two pretty good names. He does own the highest assist per game in Celtics Playoff history though (9.18). Not bad.
We'll probably never see another point guard like Playoff Rondo, someone who is tough as nails, never backs down, and throws up box scores that should only be possible on 2K Rookie Mode. Arguably my favorite Celtics point guard of all time, man am I glad that tweet crossed my timeline because reliving his Celtics playoff career was the most fun I've had in weeks.