When you watch Rajon Rondo (short, skinny and very much lacking any muscular bulk) defend Lebron James (tall, not so skinny, and very much as well-built as any human being currently living), you wonder how it works. Then you see this picture, and you look at the unnerving intensity etched on Rondo’s face, and you realize why. The Celtics make it work. Sometimes they’ll do it unconventionally, with Rondo defending Lebron. Sometimes they’ll do it more conventionally, with Perk, Garnett and Glen Davis working for easy buckets on the interior. But they assert themselves, however possible.
In a strange way, the Celtics are providing the Miami Heat with the blueprint for how to beat them. By willing themselves to another victory, the Celtics again showed the Heat what they still lack — mostly, toughness and solidarity (and, less fixable, a point guard and a center). Do what the Celtics do, and you have a better chance of defeating them.
But the thing is, I firmly believe the Heat thought this process would be easy. They never expected Boston to provide such a challenge. They thought Boston, and the rest of the NBA, would bow down and kiss their SuperTeam shoes. Wade, Lebron and Bosh thought they’d join forces, strap on their capes, and see championships start to pile up. How many rings did Lebron predict, back at the WWF-style introduction they had? Eight? Eight titles, he predicted. By his side stood Wade and Bosh, the two sidekicks who would help Lebron get those championships. This would be easy, they thought. Alone, they were damn tough to beat. Together? They’d surely prove invincible.
Except they didn’t suspect the Celtics to stand in their way, like a road block that’s not moving anywhere. Like a basketball-playing road block that’s just as skilled, yet deeper, tougher, bigger and more versatile. The Celtics don’t cede a thing. They don’t back down an inch. Rondo may stand only 6’1″ and 170 pounds soaking wet, but there he was, with a forearm on Lebron’s back, looking up at Lebron with eyes that screamed focus and intensity. It didn’t matter that Pierce was hurt, or that Daniels, West, Shaq, Jermaine, and Semih Erden were all out injured. The Celtics, damn it all, were going to find a way to win. Either that, or they were going to exhaust every avenue while trying.
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