With Paul Pierce fouled out and the Philadelphia 76ers on the move, the Boston Celtics’ playoff fate was not exactly stable. But it was then that point guard Rajon Rondo provided reassuring plays in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter that saved their season.
Rondo, the point guard who has never been mistaken as a perimeter shooter, scored nine straight points during a key stretch in the waning moments to catapult the Celtics to an 85-75 Game 7 victory.
And so, Boston earned a place in the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, with Game 1 Monday in Miami.
Andre Iguodala scored 18 points and Elton Brand and Jrue Holiday had 15 each for the 76ers, who hung around despite poor shooting throughout the game.
Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Ray Allen hit a pair of fourth-quarter 3-pointers after missing his first five attempts. Pierce had 15 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with 4:16 left in the fourth quarter.
It was at that point that Rondo (18 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) made things happen for Boston. He scored on a baseline drive and followed it up with a long 2-pointer with 2:47 left. Then Rondo drained a 3-point jump shot with a little more than 2 minutes left to make it a 10-pont game.
When Rondo went to the line a few second later, the crowd chanted ”M-V-P! M-V-P!” He made the free throws to give Boston an 80-70 lead with 1:44 left ad that was that.
Now, the Celtics face the league’s MVP in LeBron James and his equally dynamic partner, Dwyane Wade – a difficult chore.