Rajon Rondo Grows Up

1190922388What was the signature play from the Celtics win over the Pistons last night? Was it Rajon Rondo streaking through an opening in the Detroit defense and throwing it down on 6-foot-9 Jason Maxiell? Or was it Rondo flopping to the ground like he had been shot by a cannon after Chauncey Billups dropped an elbow on his mug?

Yes, Kevin Garnett was fantastic (let’s not lock up that Kobe-LeBron MVP debate just yet, OK fellas?), Kendrick Perkins was a beast on the boards, and Paul Pierce hit several big shots, but the most important player on the floor for your playoff-bound Celtics was Rondo.

Early in the game, Billups was giving Rondo a lesson in old-school techniques. Billups is the modern-day master at “drawing contact,” which in real-life terms means he bumps into people and then falls to the ground. Billups lived at the line in the first half while the tired Pistons clawed their way back into the game.

It didn’t take Rondo long to figure it out, and he went right at Mr. Big Shot in the second half on the assumption that Billups can’t flop when he can’t catch up. Taking a dive of his own was icing on the cake.

It’s interesting that most league observers viewed the signing of Sam Cassell as a must for the Celtics — as if Rondo didn’t even exist. Clearly they have not been paying attention. Again, don’t get us wrong. We love Cassell, and getting quality veteran insurance for nothing was a coup by Danny Ainge.

But this has to be Rondo’s position. Quick: How many point guards in the East would you take ahead of him? And how many of them are 22-years-old? The kid, as Tommy Heinsohn has told us for a year and three quarters, is a play-ah.