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PLAYOFF RONDO is back and is inspiring the Pelicans to new heights

Rajon Rondo’s fingerprints are all over the Pelicans’ improbable rise.

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Pelicans completed an impressive and unlikely series sweep of the Trail Blazers on Saturday, and Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday received most of the credit.

But you can’t forget about Rajon Rondo, the veteran floor general whose fingerprints were all over this surprisingly short four-game series from start to finish. Actually, you can argue Rondo’s presence has elevated his teammates’ games altogether

Rondo finished the Pelicans’ Game 4 win with seven points and 16 assists. It was the 125th 15-assist game of his career, and it wasn’t even his highest mark of the series. Rondo averaged 11 points and 13 assists over the four-game series, but Rondo’s impact goes beyond the numbers you read on the box score.

He makes the game easier for Jrue Holiday

Jrue Holiday didn’t pop a magic blue pill or drink from the heart-shaped herb this season. He’s the same rugged, two-way guard he’s always been. What’s been different for Holiday this season, though, has been the addition of Rondo, a floor general best suited with the ball in his hands. That frees Holiday up to be incredibly aggressive on both offense and defense without having the added worry of orchestrating an entire offense.

Holiday scored 41 freaking points against the Trail Blazers in Game 4 while leading the charge in holding Damian Lillard to just 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting.

Lillard never scored more than 20 points, nor did he shoot better than 44 percent in a single game this series. How could he with Holiday energized enough to keep attached to his hip all game?

Holiday said it best himself. He’s played against Rondo several times in his career. It’s no picnic.

“It’s good to be on his side,” Holiday said after Game 2. “Playoff Rondo, you know.”

Anthony Davis can say the same

AD scored 47 points in the Pelicans’ Game 4 victory. Rondo assisted on six of Davis’s 15 field goals on the night. In fact, Rondo assisted on 19 of The Brow’s 49 total field goals made in the first round. That’s because he puts the ball right where it’s supposed to be, which is often times just ahead of where the play is.

Look at this wizardry Rondo performed in Game 4 when he found Davis with an incredible behind-the-back after probing on the baseline. This is the kind of pass Steve Nash and Jason Kidd pulled off in their prime.

How about this picture-perfect pinpoint alley-oop pass to Davis, who then flushed it right on top of Zach Collins’s head?

This isn’t Playoff Rondo’s first rodeo

Sure, Rondo suffered a few dark year with Dallas and Sacramento, but don’t forget: Playoff Rondo is a real thing. After all, he was the maestro for the 2008 Boston Celtics team that went all the way and won a championship. And don’t forget the Bulls were working the top-seeded Celtics last year until Rondo fractured his thumb and had to sit the rest of the series.

Rondo averages 10.5 points, 8.5 assists and just under 4.8 rebounds per game during the regular season. In the playoffs, he averages 14.3 points, nine assists, six rebounds and two steals per game. The man is a champion, for crying out loud. He’s not here for fun.

Rondo has edge — you saw it in his mini-skirmish with Zach Collins. He’s selfless and he has championship pedigree. He’s trying to put it all together, and he’s off to an incredible start.

Playoff Rondo is a real-life thing, and the Pelicans sweep of the Trail Blazers is proof. New Orleans is moving on to the second round. They wouldn’t be here without him.