‘Dawg’ days of the playoffs, and Rajon Rondo is eating it all up

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Rajon Rondo’s no-nonsense attitude is even more pronounced during the postseason — with the media and opponents.

If you want straight-up answers from Rondo, ask straight-up questions.

If the Celtics want Rondo to keep his mouth shut on the court, then they’d better start showing up. If not, they’re going to have to get used to Rondo yelling, “They gave up!’’ which he did Tuesday throughout Game 2.

Earlier this season, former Bull Taj Gibson described Rondo as “hard-core dawg, just hungry.’’

“We don’t win a lot of these games without [Rondo] out there,’’ Jimmy Butler said.

“He knows how good we can be as a team, how we need everybody, him probably more than anybody.

‘‘He’s the general out there, the point guard. He’s running everything. He knows that because he’s such a smart player.’’

Rondo’s top-tier basketball IQ is a key reason the eighth-seeded Bulls have the top-seeded Celtics down 2-0 and looking forlorn.

Dwyane Wade confessed that he disliked playing against Rondo during all those old Heat-Celtics battles.

“Hated him . . . hated him as a competitor,’’ Wade said. “That hate is that respect.

‘‘When we played against Boston back in the day, he knew all the plays. He messes up your first option. And then he knows the second option. We were just good enough to have a third option. He was that good.

“For me and Jimmy to have someone who is so locked in, that gives us a different voice. [Coach] Fred [Hoiberg] gives us a voice, [but with Rondo], we know we can go to him and ask him anything. He’s watching film all the time. Our job was easy. We just had to play.’’

Butler and Wade have been freed up to do their thing, and Rondo fell a rebound short of a triple-double in Game 2, but his role as agitator and disruptor doesn’t show up in a box score.

“Yes, [Rondo did] a lot of talking,’’ Nikola Mirotic said with a laugh.

Celtics guard Avery Bradley almost was begging his teammates to change their body language so Rondo would stop feeding off of it.

“I looked around, and guys were putting their heads down a few times, getting down on themselves,’’ Bradley said. “I could even hear Rondo like, ‘Yeah, they gave up. They gave up.’ ’’

The Celtics might want to make a quick adjustment, but it likely won’t save them from the inevitable. These Bulls were better-suited for the playoffs all along, and, after squeaking in, someone has to pay for it.

Rondo, in particular, always seems to raise his game in the postseason.

“For the playoffs, you get a couple of extra days of rest for the body,’’ Rondo said. “You get three or four days of prep on a team, lock into their game plan. And I’m playing plus minutes.

‘‘I don’t know what it is. I try to lock in and do what I can for my team.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com


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