After what could be aptly called an interesting Game 1 loss for the Celtics  Sunday night, CSNNE analyst Donny Marshall joined Mut & Merloni to discuss all things surrounding the Celtics’ 83-74 loss to the Hawks.
Understandably, no topic was given more weight than the ejection of Rajon Rondo  for making contact with official Marc Davis and, specifically, the potential fallout for Rondo’s actions. Marshall said that Rondo will definitely be suspended, and while it should only be for one game, it may end up being for two.
‘Any contact you make with an official, it means you’re going to be suspended a game,” Marshall said. “And I’ll take it one step further — I wouldn’t be surprised if the NBA says, ‘You know what? We’re going to suspend you two games.’
“David Stern  is not one of those guys who gives you the benefit of the doubt. It would not surprise me if it were two games. I hope it’s just one, it should only be one, but in the past David Stern has come down.’
While Rondo’s actions certainly could be detrimental to the Celtics’ success going forward, Marshall said that Rondo’s teammates would be best served to be supportive of him.
“You know as a teammate, especially at that level, you don’t overreact to what your teammates do,” Marshall said. “You step back and say, ‘Look, what would I have done? Would I have reacted that way?’ Guys have emotions and you can’t judge your teammates based off one emotional mistake.
“Rondo has given so much to that team and done such a great job of leading that team sometimes when they’ve been down guys. You can’t overreact because the last thing you want is for that incident to blow into something bigger and now it become a personal thing in that locker room.”
With the Celtics’ floor general and top playmaker likely out for at least a game in the series, the team will have to move forward with someone else assuming the role as the team’s primary ballhandler. Marshall said that Avery Bradley  will be the one who will take over for Rondo as the starting point guard, but that he won’t be the same focal point in the offense that Rondo is.
“He will start Avery at the point, but Paul Pierce  is going to be handling the ball most of the time,” Marshall said. “What they need to do, though, is not get caught up in, ‘Paul Pierce, you struggled in Game 1. Go out there and prove to us and try to get Game 1 back.’
“Instead, he needs to do what he did when Rondo was out last time and he had the multiple assists and he ran the team the right way. This can’t be a Paul Pierce show because that’s exactly what Atlanta wants.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page .
On Rondo’s maturity and whether or not he did trip: “He was following too close behind. You can’t be that close to an official, you can’t really be in their face doing that kind of thing. The thing that’s sad about what we saw last night was the maturation process of Rondo has been such that Doc Rivers  has said, ‘Listen, I’m giving this guy the opportunity to make calls on the floor.’ He has a high, high basketball IQ, we know that. But with that maturity also comes some type of leadership and some type of composure. You hope he can learn that from a Ray Allen , a Kevin Garnett , a Paul Pierce. Let’s remember how old the kid is and let’s remember it’s basketball — it’s an emotional sport and that got the best of him. He is still growing, he is still maturing. He has not a long way to go, a very little way to go, but he’ll get there.’
On the Celtics’ flat start to the game: “The thing that I saw was, yes, flat, but almost an arrogance, almost a, ‘Hey, we know the Hawks are one of those teams that will self-destruct. They’ll get off to a good start, but that’s OK, we’ll weather the storm and we’ll make our run.’ It was a little arrogant and I think Doc Rivers summed that up when he said, ‘We thought we could just show up in our uniforms, with them seeing the Celtics uniforms and that would scare them off and win the game for us.’ You can’t do that, I don’t care who you’re playing.”
On Ray Allen’s future in Boston beyond this season: “I don’t think Ray’s done for his career, but I think with the way that free agency is going to work out, the way the money is now as far as when you talk about collective bargaining and the changes the NBA has made from the lockout, I’m not sure the Celtics will have the money to spend on a Ray, on a KG to keep them in Boston. Ray will be 37 this summer. There aren’t going to be many teams who are going to say, ‘Hey, we’ll give you $5 [million] to $10 million at 37 years old when you know you’re playing on an ankle and a half.’ That’s the reality of it.”