BOSTON – For most of his career with the Boston Celtics, Rajon Rondo's play was always building towards this time of year.
There’s regular season Rondo who puts up pretty decent numbers most of the time.
And then there’s playoff Rondo who morphs into one of the best players on the planet when it matters most – the playoffs.
Rondo was indeed in "playoff-Rondo" form Tuesday night in helping lead the Chicago Bulls to a 111-97 win that now puts the Bulls ahead 2-0 in the best-of-seven series that now shifts to Chicago for Games 3 and 4.
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On Tuesday, Rondo had a near triple-double before finishing with 11 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.
“He was the key early in the game as far as getting us up the floor,” said Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg. “I thought his pace was terrific.”
Said Rondo: “I just tried to stay aggressive. I was pretty aggressive (Game 1), but I got myself into some foul trouble. Isaiah (Thomas) is a really crafty guy and I just wanted to go out and play as hard as I could.”
He did just that, playing with purpose, poise and precision of the likes that the Celtics could not match.
“He’s playing with a lot of leadership out there,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “He’s putting guys in position, calling out sets, he’s been a very good leader out there for those guys. They feed off that. I think he’s always had that leadership mentality. He’s a veteran. He knows how to win and he’s doing a good job of leading those guys.”
Rondo’s strong play is in stark contrast to what has been a difficult season for the veteran guard.
He began the season as a starter, then found himself out of the rotation and soon out of the lineup altogether.
But as the Bulls made their late season run just to be playoff eligible, Rondo’s floor leadership was instrumental in Chicago closing the regular season out with wins in seven of their last nine games.
While Rondo and the Bulls know how important he has been to them getting to the playoffs, they know all too well that there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Their attention now is squarely on getting Game 3 at the United Center on Friday.
“Definitely Game 3 is just one game, but it’s going to be the biggest game of our season and we want to approach it with that mindset and try to go out there and get another ‘W,’” Rondo said. “It’s one game at a time, one possession at a time.”