Final: Celtics 97, Cavaliers 87: "M-V-P" chants for Rajon Rondo?
Rondo was spectacular this afternoon against the Cavaliers, carrying the Celtics on his wiry frame on his way to 29 points, 18 rebounds, and 13 assists. MVP of the league? That belongs to LeBron James. But in four games so far this series, Rondo has been king.
Rondo set the tone early, hitting 5 of 8 shots in the first quarter as the Celtics established a 31-22 lead. The Celtics point guard took it right at Shaquille O'Neal and LeBron James. He was unafraid to challenge either shot-blocker, and that absence of fear set the tone going forward.
The Celtics were also fearless on defense. After allowing Cleveland to shoot over 60 percent for much of Game 3, the Celtics held Cleveland to 40-percent shooting in Game 4. James finished with 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists, but his 9-of-17 shooting wasn't enough to get it done.
The Celtics also got great contributions off their bench, with Tony Allen (15 points), Glen Davis (5 points, 3 rebounds) and Rasheed Wallace (2 blocks, 2 steals) playing valuable minutes during a 15-2 Celtics run in the fourth quarter. Even more impressive for Wallace was that his second-half performance came entirely with four fouls, all of which he picked up before halftime.
Game 5 is Tuesday night (8 p.m.) in Cleveland.
Much more to come here from the Garden.
1:34 4th quarter, Celtics 92-85: Not that he needed to reinforce any of this, but that offensive rebound and putback by Rajon Rondo cemented Rondo has the best player in this game. By miles.
2:53 4th quarter, Celtics 88-84: Back and fourth we go. The Celtics cling to the lead, but they're in trouble if this one goes to overtime. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have five fouls. Shaq has five for Cleveland.
5:37 4th quarter, Celtics 86-81: Paul Pierce picks up his fifth personal, replaced by Tony Allen. The Celtics are better off with Allen until the final minute or two of this game.
6:15 4th quarter, Celtics 86-78: Cleveland's not going away. A strip on Rondo leads to an easy two for James.
8:56 4th quarter, Celtics 82-72: Just posted something less than a minute ago, but I can't overemphasize the energy the Celtics are playing with right now. Tony Allen took his man to the hole for two, and Rondo found Davis once again for a lay-up. The defense just needs to hold now.
9:48 4th quarter, Celtics 78-72: The Celtics are off and running. Glen Davis just finished off a fast break on Rajon Rondo's 11th assist. All of this energy from the home team is so welcoming after Game 3. Timeout, Cleveland.
END 3d quarter, Celtics 74-72: Give credit to the Celtics for absorbing that Cavaliers run and coming out of the the third quarter with the lead. They're doing it with Rondo and mirrors right now. Someone else (Paul Pierce) needs to step up if the Celtics want to win this game.
1:41 3d quarter, Cavaliers 70-69: Celtics defensive guru could be seen mouthing, "Oh, come on" as Ray Allen fell for a Delonte West fake and fouled West as he was attempting a three-pointer. Allen's been aggressive on offense the entire game, but even he'd admit that wasn't a smart play.
6:26 3d quarter, Celtics 64-60: A lot of negative energy in this building right now as a couple of calls go against the Celtics. The last six minutes of this quarter are key.
8:41 3d quarter, Celtics 60-51: Paul Pierce picks up his fourth foul hacking Shaq. Pierce (5 points) has been invisible this game.
Halftime, Celtics 54-45: What a difference a game makes. The last possession of the half not withstanding, the Celtics played the first half with a sense of purpose. Led by Rajon Rondo, the Celtics shot 53 percent from the field. But the real difference was on defense, where Boston players hounded the Cavaliers into 36 percent shooting.
2:58 2d quarter, Celtics 49-42: There's been a little regression in the quality of play here. A lot of fouls called, fouls not called, travels not called, etc. Still, Rajon Rondo has been consistenty awesome and is flirting with a triple-double in the first half. He's got 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists.
6:57 2d quarter, Celtics 41-32: What a response by the Celtics. Ray Allen's jumpers will get the attention, but it's that Celtics defense that has made this run possible. Cavs are down to 33 percent shooting.
8:29 2d quarter, Celtics 34-31: Mo Williams with a three, a 7-0 run by the Cavs. Timeout, Celtics.
One thought: If Kendrick Perkins picks up another foul (he has two), I imagine we'd see Shelden Williams in the game for the Celtics. Cleveland is not a team you can really go small against.
9:51 2d quarter, Celtics 34-24: Rasheed Wallace picks up his fourth personal foul. Yikes.
END 1st quarter, Celtics 31-22: It may seem like the Cavaliers are missing a lot of shots, but the Celtics are making their own luck. They've got 13 rebounds to Cleveland's 7. They're forcing the Cavs into difficult looks -- all five of LeBron James's attempts have been contested. All but one of Cleveland's three-point attempts were contested. The Cavs are shooting just 37 percent, 30 percent lower than they did in the first quarter of Game 3. This start is miles above Friday night's start for the home team.
2:49 1st quarter, Celtics 24-17: Can't stress enough how well Rajon Rondo is playing. He's attacking the rim on every possession and finishing more often than not. I caught some flack in this space Friday night for getting on Rondo. Rondo's numbers were fine Friday, but he wasn't this Rajon Rondo. This Rajon Rondo can't be stopped.
6:23 1st quarter, Celtics 14-12: The Celtics take their first lead in this building this series. And it seems like that's all it takes for the crowd to get into it. Imagine that: A lead making the fans excited. Rajon Rondo (4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) has been the catalyst.
9:41 1st quarter, Cavaliers 7-0: Strong start for Cleveland, hitting 3 of 4 from the field. Timeout, Celtics.
10:40 1st quarter, Cavaliers 2-0: The first two games went to Kevin Garnett, but Antawn Jamison has had Garnett's number in Boston. Jamison just blew by Garnett for a lay-up for the game's first points. The Celtics need Garnett to win that matchup today.
Pregame: Happy Mother's Day. Rene Rancourt with the anthem.