From what I witnessed last night, I’d now say that Rajon Rondo is the de facto on-court leader of the Boston Celtics and one of the smartest players in the NBA. That combination (along with the way he impacts play over every inch of the court both on offense and defense) makes him a favorite of mine to watch. From our ninth row behind the visitors’ bench vantage point, here’s what I saw: on one possession, Devon Harris, still in the backcourt, is dribbling the ball upcourt slowly as Avery Johnson, Nets’ head coach, calls out the offense play (or set). Rondo watches Johnson and when Johnson is done, Rondo turns and yells the play out to Lawrence Frank (serving as one-game Celtics coach in Doc Rivers absence), swivels and tells the Celtics defenders where to cheat, where to overplay. I’d read that Rondo studies film more than anyone on the team, and here was the beautiful proof. Then he did the same thing on a handful of possessions. It was like he was cheating, making the game unfair. (Imagine that you are teenagers and you are dating Rondo’s sister. Rondo would be telling his dad and your sister every move you planned to make before you even got to hold her hand. Unfair.) On another play, 3rd quarter in the midst of the inevitable Celtics run, Shaq rebounds, outlets to Rondo who, seeing Ray Allen trailing, veers off and lays a perfect bounce pass to Allen who, knifing down the lane, goes up to the rim, but flips a nonchalant finger roll that slips off the rim and out. (Allen did get fouled.) The shot was totally makeable; either a dunk or something stronger than what he tossed up there. Here’s what was interesting: Rondo gave Allen a piece of his mind. Walked up to him, sneered. Snarled. At a 14 year veteran heading for the Hall of Fame! I mean, if you care about the game, think that every play ought to matter, that a championship is earned through the accumulation of effort from the beginning of the first day of practice till the final horn, you had to love what Rondo was about last night. I did.