Celtics beat Heat in double overtime without Rondo, 100-98

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Celtics beat Heat in double overtime without Rondo, 100-98

BOSTON With so many story lines colliding when the Celtics and Heat meet, it was the guy that didn't play -- Rajon Rondo -- that had the NBA world abuzz Sunday.

Prior to the completion of Boston's 100-98 double overtime win over the Miami Heat, the Celtics discovered that Rondo would be lost for the season with a torn right ACL injury.

The news could not come at a worst time for the Celtics who avoided a seventh straight loss, which would have been the team's longest losing streak since they dropped 18 in a row during the 2006-2007 season.

Even with the win, Rondo's absence leaves a cavernous void in the Celtics lineup, one that hasn't been all that impressive even with him in the lineup.

The injury occurred during the fourth quarter of Boston's double overtime loss at Atlanta on Friday night.

Rondo was at the TD Garden prior to the game and went through shoot-around with the team.

Afterward, he was bothered by some pain in the knee and it was determined to be too painful for him to play against the Heat.

He was then sent to New England Baptist Hospital for further testing, which is when they discovered the torn ACL injury.

Without Rondo, the Celtics still had a game to play against a Heat team that came into the day with the best record in the Eastern Conference and a roster that now includes former Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen.

The C's did a video tribute prior to Allen checking in to what was his first game at the TD Garden since he joined the Heat this offseason.

Allen had a solid game off the bench for Miami, tallying 21 points to go with 5 rebounds.

But the Celtics got a solid game from their reserves as well, namely Jeff Green.

In addition to doing a decent job defending LeBron James, Green also had a number of big plays offensively which included a dunk over Chris Bosh in the fourth quarter that put the C's ahead, 75-72.

But no play was bigger than him forcing a James miss late in the second overtime. Paul Pierce grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Pierce made one of the two free throws for the game's final point.

Miami's last shot at the win came on a desperation heave from Shane Battier as time expired.

It was a night in which Celtics Nation was rocking even as one of its best players could do nothing but watch from the nearby players tunnel, surrounded by security officials, knowing he would not be able to do anything other than cheer on his teammates for the rest of the season.

The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

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The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

Boston Globe columnist, and former Celtics beat writer, Dan Shaughnessy sits down with CSN for an extended discussion on "The '86 Celtics Interviews" podcast. Shaughnessy talks about the greatness of that team and the players' surprising reaction when they found out he was moving from the Celtics to the Red Sox beat.

Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

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Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – The NBA is a league full of highs and lows for players.

There are few who understand this as well as Tyler Zeller, a player who has gone from starting to being a backup to not playing at all – at times in the same week.

And through it all, you never heard him gripe about it publicly or privately to teammates.

It’s among the many reasons you constantly hear his teammates talk about how much they respect the way he has handled some extremely difficult situations.

This past season was especially tough for him considering he was heading into free agency and looking to do all he could to not just win, but showcase what he could do as player.

There were many nights when Zeller didn’t have that opportunity, but he understood.

The Celtics have been and will continue to be a team that’s about finding ways to win and on many nights coach Brad Stevens decided to go in a direction that didn’t include Zeller playing.

As the summer dragged on and the Celtics’ joined the handful of teams that came up short in landing Kevin Durant, Zeller’s return became more likely.

And Zeller’s patience was rewarded with a two-year, $16 million contract with the second year of the deal being a team option.

Now that he’s back in the fold, what’s next?

The ceiling for Zeller: Part-time starter

It may not happen on opening night and it may not happen in the first week, or even first month, of the season.

But at some point, Tyler Zeller will be in the Celtics’ starting lineup.

And when he’s there, he’ll do a lot of good things that he has proven he’s capable of doing.

When it comes to running the floor in transition, Zeller has distinguished himself as one of the Celtics best big men.

The Celtics are big on playing with space and pace and there are few 7-footers who can run the floor as well as Zeller.

In fact, his PACE (number of possessions per 48 minutes) last season was 101.93 which was tops among all Celtics frontcourt players and second overall to guard Marcus Smart (102.46).

It’ll get the Celtics a few easy buckets here and there, but it won’t score enough points with the coaching staff to keep a starting job, which would then relegate him back to being one of the team’s frontcourt reserves.

Still, Zeller is a luxury that few teams have: a player who won’t get (overly) bent out of shape even if his minutes resemble this.

The floor for Zeller: On the roster

Zeller has spent the bulk of his NBA career as a back-to-the-basket center, but showed more desire to score more from the perimeter last season, which is one of the reasons why he shot a career-low 47.6 percent from the field.

He’s trying to expand his game because of the direction that the NBA is going with big men who need to be able to score further away from the basket in addition to providing a presence around the rim.

While Zeller has decent mechanics on his perimeter shot, it’s clear that he’s not yet totally comfortable being a “stretch big.”

According to NBA.com/stats, Zeller shot 30.9 percent from the field last season on wide open shot attempts from at least 10 feet away.

With the addition of Al Horford and the return of Amir Johnson as well as Kelly Olynyk, Boston has a nice group of stretch centers they can put on the floor. And let’s not forget about Jonas Jerebko, who closed out the playoffs as a starter for Boston.

Minutes will once again be hard to come by for Zeller with any kind of consistency.

In fact, there’s a very good chance that he will have some games in which he doesn’t play (coaches decision) at all.

And depending on injuries, he may have to be inactive at times just to ensure Boston has depth on the perimeter.

Whether he’s starting, coming off the bench or not suited up at all, Zeller is an important part of this Celtics squad. Above all else, he provides depth, which continues to be one of the hallmarks for this franchise under Stevens.