The end result had the Tobin Bridge written all over it, at least from the perspective of a rabid Boston Celtics fan (see Tommy Heinsohn).
The Celtics looked like champions from the opening tap, answering Monday night's disappointing crunch time performance with a 53-minute gem.
If Rajon Rondo scores 44 points and hands out 10 assists, the Celtics are supposed to win. Period.
Yet, remarkably, it wasn't quite enough.
I get it. It was very, very disappointing losing the pivotal Game 2 in Miami, 115-111 in overtime.
But Rondo's performance last night — making 16 of 24 shots — was maybe the best development of this lockout-shortened season.
Rondo's penchant for triple-doubles (double figures in points, assists and rebounds) is well-documented. His ability to get the ball to the right player in the right spot is special.
But let's be honest. The points part of the triple-double, at least when he's got the ball 15-plus feet away from the basket, has been the bane of his existence.
It's the difference between him making $18 million a year instead of the $10 million per year he makes. Last night, Rondo was an $18-million man.
This is quite a development not only for tomorrow night and Sunday night, when the Celtics host the Heat, but beyond.
This Rondo, the guy who can hit open jumpers like most of his point guard brethren, changes everything going forward about the Celtics.
It means teams will have to come out and put a hand near his face rather than the embarrassing way defenders sit in the middle of the key helping on other players.
You can't say Rondo's perimeter shooting was laced with luck. His form was perfect. Most of his makes were swishes. And his 10-for-12 performance from the free throw line was one of his all-time best considering the timing (NBA conference finals!).
Last night was a big night for the Celtics. They showed the Heat that this is not going to be easy. If the Heat win this series, and they probably will, they will have some lumps to prove it.
But most of all, last night may have changed the course for the future of the post-Big 3 Celtics.
Maybe you really can build this team around Rondo. Maybe he is an all-time great rather than a statistical oddity.
The Celtics lost last night. We don't want to over-state Rondo's stats.
But maybe, just maybe, they will extend this season a few games longer than any of us expected. Maybe these Celtics are good enough, with a little luck — and a little more contributions from the bench players — to beat this hard-to-figure Heat team.