The NBA playoffs enter a new week with two games on Monday night, both of which are crucial fourth games. At least one of those games will be filled with back-story as well.
The Miami Heat take on the Boston Celtics at 7 p.m. in Boston with the Heat holding a two-games-to-one lead in the series. Needless to say there would be enough drama surrounding that game, but that drama will be amped up with the uncertainty of whether the Celtics' Rajon Rondo will be able to play after being pulled to the floor by Dwyane Wade on Saturday and suffering a horrid elbow injury.
Rondo came back from that injury and contributed down the stretch as Boston got back into the series with a 97-81 win, but Boston also saw Delonte West get dinged up, and West's availability might be limited on Monday.
Obviously the Celtics need this game, to avoid having to go back to Miami looking at a possible elimination. But it is safe to say that the Heat need this game as well. Losing two in a row to Boston would energize the Celtics to the point where the Celtics might be able to go to the Heat's home court and steal a Game Five against LeBron and Company.
After all, we all know that Boston is capable of winning a Game Five on the road against a LeBron James team. We remember it all too well, even if we are now pulling for the Celtics.
Out west, the Oklahoma City Thunder need to bounce back from their stunning fourth-quarter collapse and overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, which game the eight-seed Griz the lead in their series, two-games-to-one.
Of course the situation is not quite as critical for the Thunder in Game Four, except for that intangible known as momentum. Even should they fall behind 3-1 to Memphis, OKC would be returning home for Game Five and would also have a potential Game Seven at home. But when a team is not expected to win and then suddenly is winning, who knows what can happen?
Ask the Lakers. I am sure that they could tell you all about it -- hopefully not right before they planted an elbow in your chest and tried to maim you, as Andrew Bynum did to J.J. Barea yesterday when it was clear that the Mavericks were going to sweep Phil Jackson into NBA history.
It should be an interesting Monday night on the courts. And what would make it an exceptional night would be Rajon Rondo playing, and the Celtics sending LeBron to the locker room with a scowl and a sick feeling in his stomach as he ponders another Game Five in a series tied at 2-2 against the team that ended his 2009-10.