MIAMI With a roster full of Hall-of-Famers-to-be, establishing a pecking order of sorts as to who is in charge can be tricky.
When the Big Three came together in 2008, it was Paul Pierce's team.
He's still the captain and remains their best scoring threat on most nights. But Celtics have evolved into Rajon Rondo's club throughout the course of this series.
There will be others who on any given night who may contribute more than Rondo to the Celtics' success. But the more you watch the C's play, the clearer it is that the Celts will only go as far as Rondo is able to lead them.
Accepting that has been an overlooked but important dynamic as the C's have advanced to the Eastern Conference finals against Miami. With the series tied at 2-2, a pivotal Game 5 takes place tonight in Miami.
"They understand Rondo is the leader of the team," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "Everybody else plays with Rondo. Paul is still our best scorer. They've kind of gotten out of each other's way with roles."
While Pierce remains Boston's best one-on-one scorer, he has grown to accept that the success of the Celtics hinges on the play and leadership of Rondo.
"He's the head of the snake on this team," Pierce said of Rondo. "We need him to come out with a vicious bite."
Pierce added: "When he's out there controlling the tempo, pushing the pace, rebounding and passing . . . we almost ask him to try to get a triple-double every night."
What Rondo has done in this series against Miami isn't all that shocking.
He has proven to be at his best in the playoffs, a regular in delivering the spectacular, mind-blowing kind of performance to help the Celtics win tough games.
But there's one difference with this current run by Rondo -- consistency.
In the four playoff games against Miami, Rondo has averaged 17.6 points, 11.7 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game - the kind of numbers only a handful of point guards in the league are capable of delivering.
Those kind of numbers only strengthen the argument that the big-game performances that Rondo has had in the past, are now coming in more steady, more consistent doses.
It's to the point where a 15-assist game for Rondo is just another game.
"He's just a phenomenal talent," said C's guard Keyon Dooling. "He's already doing things that no one in the league is doing, or things that haven't been done before. It's good to see the work that he has put into his game, pay off the way it has. He's one of the best players in the NBA; not just one of the best point guards, but one of the best, period."