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Celtics guard Rajon Rondo starting against Lakers 01.17.14 at 7:25 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo got the start at point guard in his much-anticipated return to the court on Friday night against the Lakers.

Celtics (14-26) coach Brad Stevens confirmed Rondo’s return to reporters before the 7:30 tip-off at the Garden.

Rondo has been sidelined since Jan. 25, 2013 with a torn ACL he suffered in a regular season game versus the Hawks.

Undrafted rookie Phil Pressey started his first career game at point guard in the Celtics‘ 88-83 win on Wednesday night that snapped a nine-game losing streak. Pressey briefly took over for the starting duties for the traded Jordan Crawford.

Rondo averaged 13.7 points, 11.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game in 38 games last season.

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Phil Pressey makes first career start, leads Celtics to victory 01.16.14 at 12:24 am ET
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Phil Pressey made his first start with the Celtics on Wednesday. (AP)

Phil Pressey made his first start with the Celtics on Wednesday. (AP)

A few minutes into the third quarter, Phil Pressey jetted around a pick-and-roll, confidently rose for an 18-foot jump shot and connected. But before he could celebrate a whistle sounded: A Boston foul nullified Pressey’€™s first points as a Celtic starter.

“I felt like that really was going to get me goin. When I finally hit one, it felt good,” Pressey said with a smile after Wednesday night’€™s game.

Pressey never scored those elusive first two points, but with Boston’€™s 10-game losing streak snapped in the team’€™s 88-83 win over the Raptors, he can now boast about his 1-0 record as a starting point guard in the NBA.

The undrafted rookie free agent’€™s 0-for-5 shooting line and zero points were not indicative of the impact he made on the game. Pressey dished out a career-high 10 assists and did not commit a single turnover in 26 minutes of play — also a career-high.

“I thought he was absolutely terrific,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

Pressey liked the 10 dimes, but not as much as the zero turnovers.

“I know if I take care of the ball, I know I’€™m giving my team an opportunity to get more shots up. That’€™s what I pride myself on,” Pressey said.

The Celtics‘€™ thinness at the guard position necessitated Pressey’€™s insertion into the lineup. (Starting point guard Jordan Crawford and reserve guard MarShon Brooks were dealt to the Warriors, Rajon Rondo is still out, and Keith Bogans indefinitely left the team for personal reasons).

Pressey said he was alerted of his promotion in shootaround. Yet the suddenness of the promotion was not alarming.

“The guys embraced me from the start, like I’€™ve been there from day one, so it was very easy for me to step in and help my team out,” Pressey said.

Pressey started off slowly, but he helped spark a 6-0 run to end the half that put Boston ahead 45-41. With under one minute left, Pressey and Jared Sullinger executed a pick-and-roll that culminated with Sullinger canning a long running jumper. Pressey then pick-pocketed Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry and set off in transition where he found a trailing Avery Bradley with a smooth behind-the-back pass for an easy layup. Then Pressey collected a Raptors miss and alertly sent an outlet pass to Bradley, who had leaked ahead of the field. Bradley was fouled and made both free throws.

Pressey helped extend Boston’€™s lead to 17 with three assists in the third quarter.

“I thought when things got tough, he got tough,” Stevens said.

And things got tough in the fourth quarter. The Celtics blew their massive lead, and suddenly found themselves nursing a three-point advantage in the waning moments. But Pressey helped weather the storm and Boston eked out the win.

“To his credit, I thought he pulled guys in and together instead of when something doesn’€™t go our way we’€™re not together,” Stevens said.

There’€™s speculation that Rondo will return on Friday against the Lakers. But Boston hopes to ease Rondo back into action, and Pressey’€™s strong outing suggests that he’€™ll continue to see big minutes until Rondo’€™s healthy.

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Breaking down the Celtics’ Jordan Crawford trade 01.15.14 at 12:56 pm ET
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Jordan Crawford

Jordan Crawford

Thus ends the Jordan Crawford era.

The Celtics traded Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Warriors in a three-team deal with the Heat that will bring Joel Anthony, a protected first-round pick and a future second-round pick to Boston, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The first-round pick comes by way of the 76ers and is lottery protected for this season and next. Should Philadelphia fail to reach the playoffs in either season, the Celtics will receive Philly’s 2015 and 2016 second-round selections. The second-round pick currently in place is reportedly Miami’s 2016 selection.

Regardless, Ainge traded one player who was out for the season (Leandro Barbosa) and another who was out of the league within two months (Jason Collins) for Crawford at the trade deadline last season, and turned him into at least two future picks. Pretty savvy on the Celtics president’s part.

Meanwhile, the Heat received Toney Douglas from the Warriors and managed to unload Anthony’s burdensome contract on the Celtics. The 31-year-old center, who has appeared in just 12 games for Miami, is making $3.8 million this season and will surely pick up his $3.8 million player option in 2014-15. That’s the downside, as Crawford is a restricted free agent at season’s end.

In Crawford and Brooks, the Warriors add backcourt depth behind the oft-injured Stephen Curry.

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Report: Celtics close to dealing Jordan Crawford at 11:07 am ET
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Jordan Crawford

Jordan Crawford

Jordan Crawford, who has had somewhat of a career resurgence with the Celtics this season after being moved to point guard, might soon have to make a fresh start. According to a tweet from veteran NBA reporter Peter Vescey, the Celtics are close to moving Crawford, with the Nets, Clippers, Sun, Rockets and Warriors showing interest. (The league told the Celtics they can’t deal directly with the Clippers for one year following the Doc Rivers deal, but there is speculation that they might be able to work around it, perhaps with the inclusion of a third team.)

With Rajon Rondo expected back for Friday’s game against the Lakers, Crawford became obvious trade bait.

Crawford, 25, is averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 assists per game.

Benched by the Wizards midway through the 2012-13 season and then acquired by the Celtics, Crawford got an opportunity to start under new coach Brad Stevens this season, following the offseason roster overhaul and with the absence of Rondo.

Crawford turned some heads with his early season play, and he peaked in early December, when he averaged 23.3 points and 6.7 assists in a 3-0 week that earned him Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors. However, his shooting percentages have substantially declined and his turnovers have increased since that time.

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Irish Coffee: When Rajon Rondo returns, Jerryd Bayless should bump Jordan Crawford down the Celtics depth chart 01.14.14 at 9:31 am ET
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Since winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week for Dec. 2-8, Jordan Crawford is among a handful of the NBA’s worst shooting regulars (46.5 TS%), and yet his usage rate ranks second only to Jeff Green on the Celtics.

By no coincidence, the C’s are 3-14 in that span. We have a sample size of 215 games in Crawford’s career, and his teams are now 71-144 when he takes the floor. That’s a .330 winning percentage. And that’s bad.

Rajon Rondo has hinted that his return could come as soon as Friday against the Lakers, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens will be forced to adjust his backcourt depth chart. Assuming Rondo and Avery Bradley start and each play 30-plus minutes a night, that leaves somewhere around 25-30 minutes to split between the remaining guard corps.

Who deserves those minutes more? Crawford or Jerryd Bayless. Friday night’s loss to the Rockets offered the answer: Jordan Crawford is the odd man out. As Crawford forced shot after shot through three quarters, Bayless bided his time, taking only two in 11:31. Then came the fourth quarter, when Stevens stuck with Bayless over Crawford for all 12 minutes, and the newly acquired guard asserted himself as the game demanded, ultimately scoring 15 points on 11 shots and making a game of what was once a mockery.

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Jordan Crawford named Player of the Week 12.09.13 at 3:18 pm ET
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Jordan Crawford

Jordan Crawford

Add this to the long list of things you never thought you’d read this NBA season (or ever, for that matter): Jordan Crawford, starting point guard for the first-place Celtics, earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors.

The C’s were the conference’s lone team to finish last week unbeaten, sweeping the Bucks, Nuggets and Knicks to improve their record to 10-12. Crawford averaged 23.3 points (61.0 FG%, 52.2 3P%), 6.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds.

  • Celtics 108, Bucks 100: 25 points (season high), 5 assists, 2 rebounds
  • Celtics 106, Nuggets 98: 22 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds
  • Celtics 114, Knicks 73: 23 points (career-high six 3′s), 7 assists, 3 boards

Crawford beat out Pacers forward Paul George and Pistons teammates Andre Drummond and Brandon Jennings for the honor. Obviously, this is the first Player of the Week award of Crawford’s four-year career.

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Fast Break: Third time the charm as Celtics stop Bucks 12.03.13 at 9:50 pm ET
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Jordan Crawford

Jordan Crawford

All five Celtics starters reached double figures, led by Jordan Crawford‘s 25 points, and the C’s avoided falling victim to the three-win Bucks for the third time in as many tries this season with a 108-100 home win.

Starters Jeff Green (18 points), Brandon Bass (16 points, 9 rebounds), Jared Sullinger (12 points, 8 boards) and Avery Bradley (15 points) all reached double digits, and Courtney Lee added 11 off the bench.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Long distance: The Celtics sunk their first four 3-point attempts — a pair of Bradley treys sandwiched around one apiece from Crawford and Green — to grab an early 18-9 advantage and force a Bucks timeout. While the C’s missed their next 10 3-point attempts, the early barrage staked them to a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and a late string of triples gave them 11 on 24 attempts for the night. Crawford, Bradley and Green combined for 10 of them.

Over the Hump: The ankle injury to Kelly Olynyk finally created an opening for increased Kris Humphries minutes, and the veteran forward has responded with his usual rebounding prowess. As he has for his previous seven NBA seasons, Humphries entered the game averaging double-digit boards per 36 minutes (10.5), and that number only stands to improve after he snagged seven boards in his first seven minutes against Milwaukee.

Happy Lee returns: After missing the previous two games with soreness in his left knee, Lee scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting off the bench. He didn’t provide his usual stat sheet stuffing, but the Celtics desperately needed his offense after seeing their second unit get outscored by 49 points in his two-game absence.

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