How much can we expect from Rondo?

776812.jpg

How much can we expect from Rondo?

Coming off one of the greatest performances in Celtics playoff history man, it still feels weird to write that, but there's no denying it's true Rajon Rondo remains the key to any and all Green success.

But the question is: How much can you really expect from him tonight at the Garden? Assuming that another 44-point performance isn't in the cards, how much production do the Celtics actually need to avoid an 0-3 death sentence?

The answer is: There is no answer.

With a player like Rondo, you can't say: "He needs to score 40 or 30 or even 20 points for the Celtics to win. You can't say he needs 15 assists, 10 rebounds or that he needs to play every second. That's because despite the gaudy stats he put up on Wednesday, Rondo isn't about numbers. He may become obsessed with them from time to time, but aside from a random showcase like we saw in Game 2 numbers are never a true measure of the effect he has on a game. It's one of the major reasons we've often seen him stumble into triple-doubles over the course of his career. How he can play what sometimes feels like an awful game but end up with a stat line that's beyond reality for three quarters of the guy's in this league. Because he's freak, but also, again, because he's not about numbers.

He's about the feel of the game, the tempo; he's about energy, intensity and intangibles. That's Rondo. And that's who he has to be tonight. If the numbers come, they come. But it will not make or break the Celtics fate. All he has to worry about is pushing the ball, keeping every one involved and taking what the defense gives him. Which will be very familiar.

Listen, the Heat aren't going to do anything different than they did in Game 2. First of all, because there's no way they're counting on Rondo to hit 10 of 12 jump shots andor 10 of 12 foul shots in consecutive games. Second, because despite all of Rondo success, the Heat still won. Why go crazy changing things? You're really going to alter your game plan because a guy who is a notoriously bad jump shooter had one good shooting night? No way. You do that, and you're just opening yourself up to get beat by Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce, who themselves have a much more explosive and terrifying track record that Rondo does.

In the end, the Heat will leave the door open for Rondo to have another enormous game, but he doesn't need to have one. There's no specific numerical requirement for what they need, except that they need him to be him: Focused. Resilient. Relentless. Rondo.

That will be enough.

And then it's on to Game 4.

Rich can be reached atrlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter athttp:twitter.comrich_levine

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

NEW ORLEANS -- There will be a significant faction of Celtics Nation who will see DeMarcus Cousins’ trade to New Orleans as a lost opportunity for the C's, who could have offered a much more enticing trade package than the one the Sacramento Kings accepted.
 
The Kings received nothing even remotely close to a king’s ransom for Cousins, acquiring him in exchange for rookie Buddy Hield, journeyman Langston Galloway and ex-Pelican Tyreke Evans (who has never been the same since his Rookie of the Year season in 2010), along with a protected first-round pick and a future second-round selection.

RELATED STORIES

While the knee-jerk reaction is to focus on why Boston decided to not pursue a trade for Cousins, more important is what the non-decision means for the moment and going forward.
 
Think about what the Celtics have done in the last three-plus seasons.
 
They went from being a lottery team to one that has the second-best record in the East. They're holding the potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft; at worst, the pick will be in the top four or five. They have three of the most team-friendly contracts (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder) in the NBA. They have promising prospects overseas as well as in the D-League. And they're led by a coach who has improved his coaching acumen -- and the team’s win total -- every year he's been on the job.
 
And it's all enveloped by a culture with a high level of selflessness, which has created a locker-room environment that has been more about fighting for each other than fighting one another or others off the court.
 
Do you really think Cousins’ talent would have trumped the baggage he'd be bringing to the Celtics if they'd acquired him?
 
For him to have fit in with this team would have required him to make the kind of changes that, frankly, I just don’t see him being capable of making at this point.
 
On more than one occasion, “not fitting in” with the Celtics culture was given to me as the reason why a Cousins-to-Boston trade never gained any traction with the team’s brass. Or coaching staff, for that matter.
 
While there's no denying that he's arguably the best center in the NBA, Cousins is a high-risk, high-reward talent that makes sense to pursue if you're a franchise which has nothing to lose by adding him to the mix. Like, say, New Orleans.
 
The Pelicans are 11th in the Western Conference despite having Anthony Davis, who has been asked to carry the weight of a franchise that has yet to figure out the best combination of talent to surround him with and find success.
 
The addition of Cousins not only provides Davis some major help, but serves as a reminder of just how desperate the Pelicans are.
 
While there are mixed reports on whether the package of assets the Kings agreed to was the best they could have received for Cousins, there was no way they were going to get anything close to comparable talent in exchange for him.
 
And that was solely due to the risk that any team was willing to take on in order to acquire him.
 
At some point, the Celtics need to take advantage of an opportunity to go all-in for a superstar player. But this was not that time, or that player.

Blakely: Pelicans form arguably the best frontcourt with Cousins-Davis

Blakely: Pelicans form arguably the best frontcourt with Cousins-Davis

A. Sherrod Blakely breaks down the DeMarcus Cousins trade to the New Orleans Pelicans