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Rajon Rondo (sore Achilles) explains exactly why he’s not playing back-to-backs 03.09.14 at 10:42 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo went into detail after Sunday night’s win over the Pistons, explaining exactly why he doesn’t feel ready to play in back-to-back games, nearly two months after returning to game action.

“If I was ready [for back-to-back games], I’d play,” Rondo said. “It’s a matter of a combination of things that bother me on my lower part of my body, my calves, my Achilles and then my knee so it’s just a part of all of those three that are affecting me after games. The next day, I need the rest.”

Rondo has been taking long massage treatments after each game on his lower body to try and reduce the impact from running up and down the court and playing his typically aggressive, sometimes reckless style. But the massages, he said, only go so far. He still has to wake up the next morning.

“I’m pretty sore when I wake up,” Rondo said. “My Achilles bothers me the most when I get out of bed. Throughout the day it gets better. I still don’t want to try to overdo it and something else may happen just because of that.”

Which is why coach Brad Stevens before Sunday’s game all but ruled out Rondo from playing in any of the five remaining sets of back-to-back games for the team this season, with the next one coming Tuesday in Indiana and Wednesday at home against the Knicks. Stevens, Rondo and GM Danny Ainge don’t want their superstar point guard injuring something like his Achilles trying to compensate for a right knee that may not still be 100 percent.

Is Rondo surprised it’s taking this long to get back to full strength?

“No. it’s the NBA season,” Rondo said. “It’s tough. I’m up to 30, 34, 35 minutes a night now. I’m doing the right procedures. I’m taking the massage. I’m icing after the games. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do it’s just that I have to listen to my body.”

Rondo had 18 assists and no turnovers in Sunday’s 118-111 win over the Pistons, falling just two assists shy of the NBA record for most assists without a turnover in NBA history. Rondo also passed Bill Russell for fifth place on the Celtics all-time list with 4,101, one more than the NBA Hall of Fame center.

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Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Kris Humphries power Celtics over Pistons at 8:32 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo dishes one of his 18 assists Sunday night against the Pistons. (AP)

Rajon Rondo dishes one of his 18 assists Sunday night against the Pistons. (AP)

Rajon Rondo dished out a season-high 18 assists to go with 11 points and the Celtics rode a red-hot third quarter from the field to post a 118-111 win over the Pistons Sunday night at TD Garden. Jeff Green scored 27 while Kelly Olynyk provided a big first-half spark off the bench, scoring 13 of his 18 points in the opening 24 minutes.

Rondo’s 18 helpers were all the more remarkable considering he had no turnovers, just two assists shy of matching the NBA record for assists in a game without committing a turnover, achieved three times.

Kris Humphries added his sixth double-double of the season, scoring 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting, while grabbing 10 rebounds. The Celtics improved to 22-41, winning consecutive games for the first time since beating Orlando, Philadelphia and Sacramento to open February. Josh Smith led Detroit with 28 while Greg Monroe added 22 for the Pistons, who fell to 24-39. The Celtics are just five games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 19 games remaining.

As was the case in Friday’s win over the Nets, the Celtics took a lead after the first quarter and were in command most of the way. Jared Sullinger’s layup with 31.3 seconds left in the first gave the Celtics a 24-22 lead, an advantage they would not relinquish.

Green scored 11 of his 27 in the second quarter as the Celtics took 57-49 halftime lead.

The Celtics came out blazing hot in the third, making 11 of their first 16 shots to open a 17-point lead. After shooting just 2-for-14 from long range in the first half, the Celtics drilled 8-of-12 from long range to put up 31 points in the first nine minutes of the quarter. The Celtics, thanks to 68 percent (15-of-22) shooting, scored 38 points in the quarter taking a 95-84 lead into the fourth.

The 38 points was the third-highest total in any quarter this season, behind the 42 in the first quarter against the Pistons on Dec. 18 and the 39 against the Bucks on Dec. 3.

While the Celtics were on fire offensively, they were leaking oil badly on defense, allowing 35 points as Detroit kept the game within range by shooting 60 percent from the field.

The 73-point quarter was a throwback to the old days of the ABA when little defense was played and open shots were the norm.

Green’s ill-fated behind-the-back pass to Will Bynum set up a Pistons fast break layup and three-point play on the other end as the Pistons drew to within eight, 95-87, in the opening 90 seconds. The two teams went back and forth. Josh Smith hit a three with 4:43 left to cut the Boston lead to nine before Jeff Green answered on the next possession.

Another Smith three cut the lead to eight, 111-103 with 2:53 left. Will Bynum hit two free throws with 2:29 left to make it 111-105. Rondo found Humphries under the basket for a nice reverse layup to make it 113-105. Bynum converted another pair of free throws with 1:10 left to make it a six-point game. His two free throws with 48.2 seconds left cut the lead to four, 113-109.

The Celtics will leave Monday after practice for a game at Indiana Tuesday night. They return to Boston to play the Knicks on Wednesday night at TD Garden. Head coach Brad Stevens indicated before the game that Rondo will likely not play in the second game of back-to-backs the rest of the season and is expected to sit out the Knicks game if he plays Tuesday night.

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Brad Stevens: Rajon Rondo ‘probably’ won’t play back-to-back this season at 6:35 pm ET
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Brad Stevens (left) and Rajon Rondo have been carefully working out his playing load. (AP)

Brad Stevens (left) and Rajon Rondo have been carefully working out his playing load. (AP)

Not that it should surprise anyone at this point of a lost season but Celtics coach Brad Stevens hinted at the obvious before Sunday’s game with the Pistons at TD Garden.

Rajon Rondo will likely not be playing in the final five sets of back-to-backs this season.

“My guess is probably that he will not play on the second game of a back to back,” Stevens said of Rondo, who had played in 17 of Boston’s 22 games since coming back from his right ACL tear.

The Celtics play on the road at Indiana Tuesday night before returning home to take on the Knicks Wednesday night at the Garden. Since Rondo came back on Jan. 17 against the Lakers, the Celtics have played four sets of back-to-backs and Rondo has missed the backend each time, including his now-infamous LA birthday bash on Feb. 22 in Sacramento.

The Celtics travel to Indiana Tuesday before returning home to play the Knicks Wednesday. There are four remaining sets of back-to-backs after this week.

“In this league, at his position, he’s going to get tested,” Stevens added. “There’s really good players at the point guard spot every night.”

Rondo is averaging 12.2 points and 8.2 assists per game in his 17 games back this season.

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Paul Pierce still thinks Rajon Rondo can be ‘unstoppable’ 03.08.14 at 11:09 am ET
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Paul Pierce sees what Danny Ainge sees and what most Celtics fans see in Rajon Rondo when the Boston point guard is on his game.

“He’s unstoppable,” Pierce said of Rondo. “I always said the more he’s improved, the more he’s expanded his game, he’s one of the best. If he’s coming down and knocking down threes, it’s almost impossible to keep him out of the paint at times, he has the floater, the way he finds people in traffic. If he continues to consistently knock down that [3-point] shot, watch out.”

Rondo drilled his first three 3-point attempts Friday night and, except for a hiccup at the end of the third quarter, Rondo and the Celtics didn’t look back in a 91-84 win over Pierce’s Nets Friday night at TD Garden.

Rondo nearly had a triple double, with 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

Pierce even gave Rondo an assist of his own, helping Rondo to his feet late in the first half after Rondo took a spill to the floor. He gave the Celtics point guard a pat on the rear and got an ovation from the crowd.

“In the end, me and Rondo share a special bond,” Pierce said. “We’ll always be friends, we’ll always have something in common with our championship, our kids still hang out together.”

Then Pierce went a little further, offering that their kids share that same bond and “hung out for his birthday, actually.” Pierce laughed out loud very hard for several seconds.

Of course, Pierce was very aware of the much ballyhooed Rondo birthday party in Los Angeles last month, when he skipped out on a trip to Sacramento after being asked to travel with the team and not stay behind. Ask Pierce and he’ll tell you all things considered, he’d want Rondo as his captain any day.

“Rondo, I respect him and what he’s doing moving forward with this franchise and it will always be that way,” Pierce added.

If anyone can understand what Rondo is going through right now it’s Pierce. Pierce made the Eastern Conference finals in 2002 and were in the playoffs the next two seasons before the team went through a massive rebuild, bottoming out in 2006-07 with a 24-win season.

“I try to forget those days,” Pierce said, laughing again. “Those were trying days. But you grow from there. I think it made me a better player, physically, mentally, it made me stronger. You can only learn from this process. You find out what type of players you have when you go through moments like this.

“They are a young team, they got a mix of some veterans, some young guys they are developing and they are only going to get better,” said Pierce. “Rondo is leading them right now, moving into the next generation of Celtics. I think their future is going to be very bright.”

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Would Paul Pierce play for Celtics again? ‘Yeah, why not?’ 03.07.14 at 11:22 pm ET
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Asked if he would consider playing for the Celtics again, the team’s former captain Paul Pierce said, “Yeah, why not? Maybe play for them. Maybe work for them. Who knows what the future holds?”

Pierce, who scored 10 points in a 91-84 loss to the C’s on Friday night, has told reporters all season he would like to join the team’s front office when his playing career is over, but this is the first time since joining the Nets he has mentioned potentially playing for his former team again. Pierce is in the final year of his contract with the Nets.

Meanwhile, Pierce had plenty to say about current Celtics captain, even joking about the media firestorm that raged after Rajon Rondo stayed in Los Angeles for his birthday while the C’s played on his off day in Sacramento.

“Me and Rondo share a special bond. We’ll always be friends. We’ll always have something in common with our championship. Our kids still hang out together. They hung out for his birthday actually.” Pierce paused for laughter. “I respect him and what he’s doing moving forward with this franchise, and it will always be that way.”

After watching Rondo surpass his career-high in 3-pointers for a season with three in the first quarter, Pierce complimented his former teammate on the added dimension to Rondo’s game.

“He’s unstoppable. I’ve always said, the more he improves, the more he expands his game, he’s one of the best. If he’s coming down and knocking down 3′s, it’s almost impossible to keep him out of the paint at times. The way he shoots that floater, the way he finds people in traffic, if he consistently knocks down that shot, watch out.”

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Fast Break: Rajon Rondo, Celtics freeze Paul Pierce, Nets at 9:55 pm ET
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There wasn’t nearly as much fanfare surrounding this Paul Pierce return to Boston, but the Celtics ended up on the winning side this time around, defeating Pierce’s Nets by a score of 91-84.

Rajon Rondo led all scorers with 20 points, adding nine assists and seven rebounds, and the Celtics (21-41) recovered from Wednesday’s miserable loss to the Warriors to snap a two-game losing streak. Jeff Green (15 points), Kelly Olynyk (13 points) and Jerryd Bayless (14 points) also reached double figures.

The Nets (30-30) fell back to .500, as Pierce finished with 10 points.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Moto Rondo: Perhaps motivated by the presence of rival Deron Williams and old friend Paul Pierce in town, Rondo came to play. He connected on his first three 3-point attempts, setting a new personal standard for a season, and scored 13 first-quarter attempts. The triple-double watch began early, and the C’s led 26-20 after one.

Technical KO: After scoring a team-high 19 points against the Warriors (somebody had to), Olynyk said he felt like he was figuring out opposing NBA defenses — how different players defend the pick-and-roll, drive-and-kick, etc. — and it showed again Friday. Scoring from 3-point range, on the drive and in the post, he abused Mason Plumlee early, even if Plumlee isn’t exactly Kevin Garnett. Now, Olynyk only needs to figure out his own NBA defense, but he showed grit, slapping the ball out of Shaun Livingston‘s hands as he attempted a few post-whistle layups. Had he made the trip, Garnett would’ve respected that. If only he were in Boston to tutor Olynyk on that end.

3 party: In addition to Rondo’s trio of 3-pointers, undrafted rookie Chris Babb drained a couple and the Celtics connected six of their 13 attempts from long-distance before the break. (Like Chris Johnson before him, Babb is earning well deserved playing time purely on effort.) But the bigger story was Brooklyn’s futility from beyond the arc. The Nets missed all 17 of their first-half attempts and naturally trailed 53-41 heading into the locker room.

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Rajon Rondo gives Louis Corbett his autographed game-worn sneakers 03.06.14 at 5:10 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo gets a lot of flak, but this was an extremely cool move. The Celtics granted 12-year-old New Zealander Louis Corbett‘s wish of seeing his favorite team play before losing his eyesight to retinitis pigmentosa.

Corbett’s favorite player, Rondo, who greeted him before the game, made sure Celtics public relations director Heather Walker delivered his autographed game-worn sneakers to the young boy. The Corbetts posted video of his reaction on their Facebook page. Rondo being Rondo, he probably would have preferred nobody ever knew.

As Brad Stevens said after the C’s lost 108-88 to the Warriors, “It’s the way we should be. It’s the way the organization should be. We should give back to the community. I don’t know that we should necessarily be applauded for it. I think we should just do it, and stories like that are uplifting to all of us.”

(h/t Red’s Army)

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