BOSTON -- Rajon Rondo sought out Doc Rivers before Game 2 of the Celtics' first-round series against the Bulls Monday night. He had more questions on his mind than the inquiring minds who've been quizzing Rivers about Kevin Garnett's knee.
"What do you need me to do?" Rivers said Rondo asked him. "What can I do defensively? What should I do offensively? Am I dribbling too much? Am I not getting the ball to Ray? Am I not getting the ball to Paul? Are we not posting enough?"
"They were great questions," Rivers said. "They were terrific questions. He’s a student of the game, and I love when he does that. We communicate a lot like that. It was just, in my mind, so many (questions) that we needed to free his mind. Hell, there’s no way I could have played with all those freakin' questions in my head. And I screwed it up by giving him answers."
Rivers walked away from his pep talk with Rondo and was worried that he'd made the situation worse by entertaining his point guard's inquiring mind. A point guard can't be asking questions before the most important game of the season. He has to just play.
"So when I walked into the locker room, I told Rondo that he had the keys to the team and just go play and stop asking me questions," Rivers said. "Just go play. This is your team; go play. I thought that first seven minutes was the best I've ever seen him play."
We will remember the last 4 1-2 minutes of the Celtics' 118-115 victory over the Bulls, which tied their first-round series at 1-1 heading to Chicago. How could you forget the last 47 seconds, with two crazy jumpers by Ben Gordon and two equally crazy 3-pointers by Allen -- including the game-winner with two seconds left?
Who knew Rondo's psyche was even more damaged than anyone thought after what rookie Derrick Rose did to him in Game 1?
Rondo put the doubts and questions aside and came out relentlessly and fearlessly attacking the basket, as if sending a message to Rose. It didn't hurt that Rose picked up two fouls in the first 3:11. When I looked at the stats at the 7:27 mark of the first quarter, it was 18-6 Boston. The Celtics were 8-for 14 from the field, while the Bulls were 2-for-7. What jumped out was that the Celtics had gotten off twice as many shots. That was all Rondo.
"We had a play drawn up to start the game," Rivers said. "We never got to it until six minutes into the first quarter, because every basket was a transition basket – make or miss. And that’s how we want to play."
When you looked at the box score when it was over, you realized that both teams shot 50 percent. But the Celtics had 96 field-goal attempts to the Bulls' 80. And you remember that the first 4 1-2 minutes were just as important as the last 4 1-2 minutes. Just not as memorable.