Blakely: This is Rondo's team now

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Blakely: This is Rondo's team now

BOSTON For years, the talk around town has been that sooner or later, this Boston Celtics team would be Rajon Rondo's team.

That time appears to be now.

Rondo continues to play at a level that none of his teammates - not Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen - are at currently.

"This is his team right now," said coach Doc Rivers.

While Allen has been solid for the C's all season, Rondo has been far and away their best player.

"Rajon is amazing, period," said Kevin Garnett. "You talk about big things are coming; big things are here. Rajon is keeping us alive every night. We just have to make sure we follow his lead, and follow his effort, and we're going to turn this thing around."

Said Rondo: "I just try to attack, be aggressive, get us easy baskets, easy looks; if it's for myself or it's for my teammates. Right now, our offense is behind our defense. Getting easy looks is going to help."

To hear Rivers and the Celtics talk so glowingly about Rondo speaks volumes about how quickly things can change in the NBA.

Just a few weeks ago, the C's were diligently working on a trade that would have sent Rondo to New Orleans for Chris Paul.

Not only did the Hornets not like the deal, but Paul wasn't thrilled about the prospect of playing for the C's in part because of their steadily diminishing window of opportunity to be among the NBA's elite.

Boston's efforts at landing David West came up short as well, with West signing a two-year, 20 million deal with the Indiana Pacers.

So that leaves Rondo and the rest of the aging Celtics to see if they can do the improbable, which would be to somehow catapult themselves back into the conversation as an NBA title contender.

Rondo, who has showed no signs of ill will towards the franchise that just a few weeks ago was ready to ship him out of town, seems more than up for the challenge of putting the C's on his back.

But he can't do it alone.

It's very likely that at some point this season, Paul Pierce will get on track offensively, and Ray Allen will continue nailing dagger 3-pointers in the fourth and Garnett will become a defensive stalwart who can also hurt teams with his elbow-jumper.

But as they return to form, the C's will have to figure out how to continue getting major production from Rondo while at the same time, getting their core players to make major contributions as well.

Rivers has no idea how all this is going to play out. But what he does know is that Rondo is playing well; better than any other Celtic player.

And when the rest of the Big Three get on track, Rondo should still be their best player.

"Rondo's just playing terrific," Rivers said. "And we've got to allow him to be terrific. We shouldn't get in his way."

Bennett on Goodell: 'Where is he? He's like Waldo right now'

Bennett on Goodell: 'Where is he? He's like Waldo right now'

FOXBORO -- Leave it to Martellus Bennett, the children's book author, to make a cartoon reference when asked about the lingering effects of Deflategate. 

Could hear the "Where's Roger?" chants that rang throughout Gillette Stadium on Sunday night, a reporter wondered? Bennett deflected at first. 

"Who's Roger," he asked? 

Then it was pointed out to him that the chants were directed to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who opted to attend the NFC title game in Atlanta -- his second trip to the Georgia Dome in as many weeks -- instead of the AFC title game between the Patriots and Steelers. 

"Oh yeah," Bennett said, his memory apparently jogged. "Where is he? He's like Waldo right now. He didn't want to come here."

Tom Brady was asked about the chants as well. He had to have heard them, a reporter noted. 

"I didn't hear that chant," Brady insisted. "I did hear them singing to Bon Jovi, though, that was pretty cool."

Awaiting the Patriots in Houston will be the Atlanta Falcons, obviously, but one side plot will be the potential for a face-to-face for Goodell and the Patriots.

In the past, Goodell has handed the Lombardi Trophy to the Super Bowl winner following the game -- a tradition one would expect would continue this year regardless of who wins. The commissioner has also awarded the game's MVP award to the honoree on the morning after the game. Following the Super Bowl two seasons ago, Brady and Goodell shared a stage as Brady accepted the MVP hardware.