I mentioned this briefly at the end of one of yesterday's posts, but with Game 6 fast approaching and injury-talk already boring, I figured I'd re-iterate the message one more time.
It's all about Rajon Rondo.
For however long we want to speculate about Paul Pierce's knee, Ray Allen's ankle, Avery Bradley's shoulder and Al Horford's pectoral. No matter what you think about who should guard Joe Johnson, who should play back-up center or who would win a race between Erick Dampier and Tommy Heinsohn. Regardless of anything
If Rondo shows up tonight and I mean really shows up nothing else will matter.
That may be a slight overstatement, but not by much.
By "show up," I don't mean "score points." This isn't a call for Rondo to put the team on his back like Pierce in Game 2, and make a push for 30 or even 20 points. Of course, if it happens, it happens, but more important than scoring points, Rondo just needs to create points. That can come by way of baskets, assists and just as well through rebounds. Rondo's never better than when he's crashing the boards and starting fast breaks by himself; when he eliminates the need for an outlet pass, and has the defense on their heels from the moment they miss a shot.
Honestly, I'm not sure why I'm spending so much time describing this ideal Rondo game, because we all know exactly what it looks like. We've seen it before most recently in Game 3, which was (not coincidentally) the only game the Celtics have resembled anything close to a championship team. The only question is when we'll see it again.
And if the answer's "tonight," here are a few things we won't have to worry about: Pierce's knee. Allen's ankle. Bradley's shoulder. Horford's pec. What do you do with Joe? Hollins or Stiemsma? Heinsohn or Dampier? All we'll care about is this: Chicago or Philly?
But if Super Rondo isn't ready when the ball goes up, then all those questions (and more) come into play for the C's. And the likelihood of heading back down to Atlanta increases by the minute.
I said it yesterday. I said 400 words ago. And I'll say it again now.
It's all about Rondo.