WALTHAM The Boston Celtics are gearing up for a Rajon Rondo-less game courtesy of a two-game suspension following an incident against Brooklyn this week - the third time in nine months.
Players being suspended is nothing new to the Celtics or any of the league's 29 teams. It happens.
But for a star player to be suspended so often, in such a short period of time, is a bit disturbing. Not only for its impact on his team, but also the potential impact on that player's reputation.
Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, acknowledges Rondo's suspension tally is high.
He has spoken with Rondo since the latest incident landed him a two-game suspension, but would not elaborate on any specifics regarding their conversation.
But it's safe to assume that the frequency at which his suspensions has come lately, was a topic of discussion.
"I think it's high," Ainge said of Rondo's rash of suspensions recently. "I just hope the next nine months is better. It's not good; there's nothing good about it. But I love the kid. He's a competitor, he's a warrior. He'll get it under control. I'm confident he will."
That competitive fire, which makes him such a good player and teammate, also fuels his rage when he feels a player - or officials - are wrong towards him, his Celtics teammates, or both.
But finding the balance between that competitiveness and not hurting his team, has proven to be challenging at times for Rondo.
"He's not happy with the fact that he's not there to help his team in the next two games, and the last game against Brooklyn," Ainge said. "Rondo is a very emotional player, he's a tough competitor. He realizes it's more important to play."
But as much as not having him around is at the central thoughts of both Rondo and the Celtics, none of them are naive enough to believe that something similar to this won't happen again.
"If it happens once in the next nine months, maybe that's progress, right?" Ainge said. "I don't expect Rondo will play the rest of his career and not go over the line emotionally."
A three-time All-Star, Rondo was suspended following an incident in the second quarter of Boston's 95-83 loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday. In addition to tonight's game against Portland, Rondo will also be suspended for Saturday's game at Milwaukee.