|Rajon Rondo taking it all in stride as he continues to work back to game action||12.28.13 at 12:41 pm ET|
The quickness and agility appear to be there. The jump shot appears to be there. The side-to-side strength and conditioning appear in place.
As rumors from New York continue that the Knicks are very interested in acquiring him, Rajon Rondo looks like a player that could break through his rehab from ACL surgery and return to game action any time.
Rondo, as he has done for the last two weeks, worked with strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo before Saturday afternoon’s game with the Cavaliers at TD Garden.
On Saturday, Rondo spent 30 minutes getting fed passes from assistant coach Jay Larranaga from the top of the key and pivoting to his spot, before releasing a good-looking jumper from mid-range and 3-point range. After 20 minutes of shooting, Rondo strapped on a conditioning cord belt and moved side to side with Doo, working on his lateral movement and strengthening the knee, hamstring and quad.
Then, perhaps most encouraging of all, Rondo got into a defensive position and went back-and-forth, jumping up on Doo, who was dribbling the ball.
All of this is tempered by the fact that Rondo indicated this week that there’s a chance he won’t return to game action until February. Rondo is clearly aware of the time it took Derrick Rose to return from his ACL tear against Philadelphia in the 2012 playoffs and Ricky Rubio cautioned earlier in December that it took him a while to get back into game-ready action, both physically and mentally after a similar injury.
Rondo injured his right ACL last January in Atlanta and hasn’t played since.
|Irish Coffee: Does Rajon Rondo guarantee playoffs?||08.14.13 at 12:00 pm ET|
In this golden age of point guards, a handful of guys have established themselves as perennial All-Stars over the past five years: Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo.
Sure, there’s the old guard (Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Chauncey Billups), the new kids on the block (Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday, John Wall) and the occasional Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris or Mo Williams in the mix, but those six are consistently at the top. “What the hell is he getting at?” you ask. Well, for starters, this.
Each time one of those six guys submitted an All-Star season, their respective teams qualified for the playoffs in 18 of 21 opportunities. Those three exceptions: Paul missed the second half of the season with a knee injury in 2010, Williams was traded midseason in 2011 and then he coasted through a truly awful Nets season in 2012.
Of course, four members of that Nets team that finished 22-44 with Williams at the helm (Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans) are members of this year’s edition of the Celtics with Rondo, but still …
RAJON RONDO (2010-13 NBA All-Star)
2009-10 Celtics: 50-32 (NBA finals)
2010-11 Celtics: 56-26 (conference semifinals)
2011-12 Celtics: 39-27 (conference finals)
2012-13 Celtics: 41-40 (first round)*
*Rondo played just 38 games due to injury
CHRIS PAUL (2008-13 NBA All-Star)
2007-08 Hornets: 56-26 (conference semifinals)
2008-09 Hornets: 49-33 (first round)
2009-10 Hornets: 37-45 (did not qualify)*
2010-11 Hornets: 46-36 (first round)
2011-12 Clippers: 40-26 (conference semifinals)
2012-13 Clippers: 56-26 (first round)
*Paul played just 45 games due to injury
DERRICK ROSE (2010-12 NBA All-Star)
2009-10 Bulls: 41-41 (first round)
2010-11 Bulls: 62-20 (conference finals)
2011-12 Bulls: 50-16 (first round)*
*Rose suffered season-ending injury in playoffs
DERON WILLIAMS (2009-12 NBA All-Star)
2008-09 Jazz: 48-34 (first round)
2009-10 Jazz: 53-29 (conference semifinals)
2010-11 Jazz: 39-43 (did not qualify)*
2010-11 Nets: 24-58 (did not qualify)*
2011-12 Nets: 22-44 (did not qualify)
*Williams traded midway through 2010-11 season
RUSSELL WESTBROOK (2011-13 NBA All-Star)
2010-11 Thunder: 55-27 (conference finals)
2011-12 Thunder: 47-19 (NBA finals)
2012-13 Thunder: 60-22 (conference semifinals)*
*Westbrook suffered season-ending injury in playoffs
TONY PARKER (2006-07, 2009, 2012-13 NBA All-Star)
2005-06 Spurs: 63-19 (conference semifinals)
2006-07 Spurs: 58-24 (NBA champions)
2008-09 Spurs: 54-28 (first round)
2011-12 Spurs: 50-16 (conference finals)
2012-13 Spurs: 58-24 (NBA finals)
That .628 winning percentage (1,229-727) is hard to ignore, especially since it also applies to the old guard, whose teams owned a near identical 1,234-718 record (.632) and qualified for the playoffs in 21 of 23 chances.
JASON KIDD (1996, 1998, 2000-04, 2007-08, 2010 NBA All-Star)
1995-96 Mavericks: 26-56 (did not qualify)
1997-98 Suns: 56-26 (first round)
1999-2000 Suns: 53-29 (conference semifinals)
2000-01 Nets: 51-31 (first round)
2001-02 Nets: 52-30 (NBA finals)
2002-03 Nets: 49-33 (NBA finals)
2003-04 Nets: 47-35 (conference semifinals)
2006-07 Nets: 41-41 (conference semifinals)
2007-08 Nets: 34-48 (did not qualify)*
2007-08 Mavericks: 51-31 (first round)*
2009-10 Mavericks: 55-27 (first round)
*Kidd traded midway through 2007-08 season
STEVE NASH (2002-03, 2005-08, 2010, 2012 NBA All-Star)
2001-02 Mavericks: 57-25 (conference semifinals)
2002-03 Mavericks: 60-22 (conference finals)
2004-05 Suns: 62-20 (conference finals)
2005-06 Suns: 54-28 (conference finals)
2006-07 Suns: 61-21 (conference semifinals)
2007-08 Suns: 55-27 (first round)
2009-10 Suns: 54-28 (conference finals)
2011-12 Suns: 33-33 (did not qualify)
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS (2006-10 NBA All-Star)
2005-06 Pistons: 64-18 (conference finals)
2006-07 Pistons: 53-29 (conference finals)
2007-08 Pistons: 59-23 (conference finals)
2008-09 Nuggets: 54-28 (conference finals)*
2009-10 Nuggets: 53-29 (first round)
*Billups traded three games into 2008-09 season
Sure, plenty of other factors went into the success of their teams. For one, they often featured names like Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce or Carmelo Anthony. But the Hornets, Bulls and Jazz teams respectively led by Paul, Rose and Williams — or even Kidd’s Nets and Billups’ Pistons — didn’t feature another superstar talent.
Quite simply, based on recent history, if Rondo submits an All-Star caliber season, the Celtics have roughly a 90 percent chance of making the playoffs. Or they could just be the 2012 Nets 2.0.
|Celtics schedule released: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett return to Boston with Nets on Jan. 26||08.07.13 at 9:18 am ET|
The NBA released the 2013-14 schedule Tuesday, and among the notable matchups for Celtics fans is when Rivers and his Clippers visit TD Garden on Dec. 11 and when the new-look Nets, featuring Pierce and Garnett, come to town for the first time Jan. 26. The Nets play at the Garden again March 7.
Brad Stevens and the C’s open their slate Oct. 30 against the Raptors in Toronto, then come home to play the Bucks two nights later.
Other circle dates include a Jan. 2 contest at the Bulls, which would be the first time Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose face off in nearly two years after both suffered ACL tears. It also serves as the team’s only Thursday night TNT game.
What may be the most interesting four-day stretch comes in mid-December. It starts when the Knicks, who ended the Celtics’ season in May, host Boston Dec. 8, and continues when the Nets do the same two days later at the Barclays Center ‘ the first regular-season matchup between the teams. The very next night, Dec. 11, happens to be when Rivers and the Clippers play at the Garden.
This season could also prove to be a bit of a grind ‘ even more so than most ‘ with the Celtics staring at playing on consecutive nights 20 times, which is actually two fewer than they had last season. Six of those back-to-backs will come in November, when they play a season-high 18 games.
In a change from recent years, the Celtics are not only not playing on Christmas, but they also have five days off Dec. 23-27.
Here is the full 2013-14 schedule:
Oct. 30 at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 Milwaukee, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 3 at Detroit, 6 p.m.
|Irish Coffee: Bulls consider Celtics ‘dangerous team’||02.13.12 at 11:17 am ET|
BOSTON — The Celtics haven’t had two days off between home games for more than a month — and won’t again until April — so the process of building a cohesive team capable of contending in the Eastern Conference continues for head coach Doc Rivers in Waltham on Monday and Tuesday.
“If you want quality product, you have to give time for quality product to be quality. And you have to have time for that,” said Kevin Garnett, who totaled 13 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks and three assists in Sunday’s win over the Bulls. “It’s not just something just because you have four guys who have been together — you’ve got a whole group of guys that’s in here, and chemistry is everything. And I’m not going to back off that. So, we have some days where we do have some practice time, and you’ll see a better, more quality product, so I’m happy for that.”
Of course, the same was said on Jan. 7 when the Celtics had a stretch of four days off between home games, and then promptly lost four straight to cap the longest losing streak of this Big Three era (5 games). Since then, though, the Celtics have won 11 of their last 15 games — including a string of nine out of 10 — capped by the 95-91 victory against the Bulls, albeit without reigning MVP Derrick Rose in the lineup.
“That team is very experienced, and I think that they’re playing at a very high level,” said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who served as an assistant under Rivers during the 2007-10 glory years. “As I said before the game, even in the Lakers game I thought they played very well and could’ve won that, of course they won the nine out of 10 and I throw out the Toronto game because to me that was a scheduling game. They had back-to-back — a late start here and then the travel to Toronto — so that was a tough game for them.
“Throw that one out, they’re playing at a very high level,” added Thibs. “When you have [Paul] Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin and [Rajon] Rondo running the team, their bench has been playing very well, they’ve been getting a number of contributions from different people, so they’re going to be a dangerous team.”
|Kevin Garnett on Rajon Rondo: ‘He had a bit of rough day’ (before his triple-double)||02.12.12 at 8:43 pm ET|
And the Celtics needed every bit of his 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds to hold on for dear life in a 95-91 win over the Bulls, providing Boston with arguably its biggest win of the season.
After approximately an hour wait in the dressing room, Kevin Garnett finally came out and gave a clue as to why Rondo was radio silent.
“He had a bit of a rough day but he played through it,” Garnett said. “He was professional. I thought he… played with that edge.”
Asked to clarify what the rough day meant afterward, Garnett would only smile and joke, spinning the following answer: “I’d love to have that kind of rough day.”
Garnett also spoke at length about a tough film session coach Doc Rivers gave to the team before the game, less than 48 hours after Rondo put up a very mediocre performance in an 86-74 loss in Toronto Friday night.
Rondo was 2-of-10 from the field, finishing with five points, seven assists and five rebounds and five turnovers in 41 minutes.
Sunday, he posted his ninth career triple-double. Quite the turnaround.
Was Rondo extra motivated?
‘Oh, I don’t know. I’m going to let you guys be that deep,” Rivers said. “I wish I could get in someone’s head that deep. I just think he wanted to win. And I thought we played at a better pace today. You could see it: we were trying to run today. And that’s how we have to play. [If] we didn’t turn the ball over we would’ve had far more points. But I just liked our pace and that’s all we talked about after the game in Toronto and today in our morning walk-through ‘ was enough of the walking. And it was not Rondo, it’s the team. The bigs have to run the floor. [Paul Pierce] and [Ray Allen] have to run the floor.”
Then came another clue as to what might have transpired to contribute to Rondo’s “rough day.”
“It does a lot of things,” Rivers said of Rondo running the fast break. “We get early posts from our bigs, we get jump shots from the break, and we get Rondo in the open court. And when you walk, it’s easy to guard.’
Hmmm. The Celtics finished the game with a 33-7 advantage in fast break points, converting all 13 chances.
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo, Celtics outrun the Bulls||at 6:10 pm ET|
BOSTON — Receiving little help from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen through the first three quarters, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo put the team on his back, taking advantage of reigning MVP Derrick Rose‘s absence and recording a triple-double in leading the C’s to victory against the visiting Bulls, 95-91.
Rondo finished with a season highs of 32 points (11-22 FG, 10-13 FT) and 15 assists to go along with his 10 rebounds. His 4-for-4 free throw shooting down the stretch helped the Celtics snap a two-game losing streak and improved to 15-12.
While Pierce and Allen combined for just 10 points (3-11 FG) and one rebound through the third quarter, they totaled 10 points in the fourth quarter as the C’s built a double-digit lead that nearly disappeared. Fourth amigo Kevin Garnett (13 points, 12 rebounds) contributed a double-double to provide a Robin to Rondo’s Batman.
Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah combined for 38 points and 16 rebounds for the Bulls (23-7) with Rose sidelined by back spasms.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Rondo goes: With Rose nursing his back spasms, Rondo had free reign against Bulls backup point guards C.J. Watson and John Lucas. In the first 10 minutes, Rondo amassed 11 points, two assists and two rebounds as the Celtics PA announcer seemingly called his name every time down the floor. His first-quarter effort staked the C’s to a 28-23 lead. The Celtics entered the game with a 10-2 record when leading after the opening 12 minutes.
Automatic transition: Likewise, without Rose running the floor, Rondo & Co. roamed free on the fast break. The Celtics entered the game averaging just 10.3 fast break points per game (ranked 25th in the NBA). They outscored the Bulls by a 33-7 margin — with Rondo’s layups and alley-oop assists leading the way.
Willing Wilcox: With Jermaine O’Neal and Brandon Bass both sidelined by knee injuries, Chris Wilcox got his first start in a Celtics uniform. He rose to the occasion, totaling 11 points (5-6 FG) and nine rebounds.
|NBA playoff picture, in a snapshot||04.26.11 at 6:46 pm ET|
Believe it or not, as of Tuesday afternoon, the Celtics are the only team that has finished its first-round series. While they await their first day of practice on Wednesday, NBA fans in Boston get a chance to watch what should be one of the most exciting playoffs in league history. Here’s a brief snapshot of the current playoff picture …
- Heat 97, 76ers 89
- Heat 94, 76ers 73
- Heat 100, 76ers 94
- 76ers 86, Heat 82
LeBron James & Co. are just trying to finish this series, so they can get their shot at the Celtics. The problem? The Heat are still struggling with chemistry and — as a result — have a 0-1 record in close-out games so far. Meanwhile, 76ers coach Doug Collins is just glad to get another game of playoff experience under his young team’s belt.
Heat forward Chris Bosh: ‘We’re going to have to trust each other. We’ve been talking about trust all this time, so we’re going to have to actually do it when it counts the most. It’s easy to stress when you’re up 2-0, 3-0. … When it’s time to close and it’s time to get to those other elite teams, and we’re going to have a chance to compete against them, we have to do the same thing well, not the same thing we did [Sunday].’
Sixers coach Doug Collins: “I’m sure Doc Rivers hopes we take the Heat to triple overtime in Game 7. No question about that. One thing about the playoffs, especially when you are a team that has a lot of games under the belt, you want series to go as little time as possible.”