Celtics forced to look for options in wake of Rondo's injury


Celtics forced to look for options in wake of Rondo's injury

BOSTON The Boston Celtics locker room was a joyful place in the moments following Sunday's 100-98 double overtime win over Miami.

And then, Doc Rivers broke the news of the night to them.

Rajon Rondo had a torn ACL injury and was going to be out for the rest of the season.

The loss of Rondo has ramifications on so many levels, for so many individuals.

No Rondo means the Celtics will be sifting through the free agent and D-League waters to see if there's a point guard they can bring in to add some depth to the backcourt.

Although it's too soon to tell what level of interest there is now, the Celtics are likely to look into adding former Celtic Delonte West.

A league source told CSNNE.com earlier this season that the only way the C's would even consider bringing West back for a third stint in Boston, would be if one of the guards currently on the roster suffered a long-term injury.

Beyond West, the pickings are pretty slim when it comes to point guards via free agency.

Boston might tap into the D-League and look to call up Andre Barrett who leads the D-League in assists with 11.2 per game. And unlike a number of D-League playmakers looking for that next big break, Barrett does have NBA experience with six different teams and currently plays for the Celtics' D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers wouldn't touch the subject, with the knowledge of Rondo being lost for the season still too fresh.

"I was just trying to think straight during the game," said Rivers, who did not find out about Rondo not playing until about 24 minutes prior to the game starting.

"Rondo was still in the starting lineup and Dr. (Brian) McKeon grabbed me and said, 'He's out.' And I said, 'he went through our walk-through.' And then he said, 'No, he's out.' And so, I was trying to go in the locker room and talk about the game with that, thinking about that thought."

Within moments of Rivers breaking the news to his players, a wide range of emotions swept through the Celtics locker room, with shock and disappointment being the two most prominent.

Rivers had an idea shortly before tip-off that Rondo's injury might keep him out for the season, but wouldn't let on to his players or even Rondo who had an MRI performed and returned to the TD Garden by halftime.

"I couldn't tell him because I wasn't positive," Rivers said.

Not surprisingly, the locker room was unusually subdued after such a huge win, and with good reason.

The Celtics won the game and moments later found out that they were losing arguably their best player for the rest of the season.

Losing Rondo has to put the C's season in a completely different context now. With him, they were a team struggling but one that many felt would get better and be a potential thorn in some team's side come playoff time with Rondo leading the charge.


The road to being one of the last teams standing just got tougher - a lot tougher.

Even with the knowledge that Rondo won't be on the floor anytime soon, the Celtics still talk a confident game.

"We still like our chances in the Eastern Conference," Pierce said. "We found we can play with anybody with the team we put out there. Even without Rondo."

But can the C's compete with the elite teams without Rondo?

Teams like ... the Heat.

"He (Rondo) makes most of the triggers for this team," said Miami's Dwyane Wade. "He pretty much does it all ... you see a triple-double in the making, in the sense so he's gonna be missed. But it's the NBA and guys are gonna step up and get their opportunity. They'll learn how to play without what he brings to the game, and other guys can bring."

His absence puts greater pressure on Boston's guards to step up and make an impact beyond the roles they have had which focus primarily on playing off of Rondo.

"Whatever Doc (Rivers) wants me to play, that's what I'm going to do," said Boston's Avery Bradley who will likely see more time playing the point now. "I'm going to go out there and give it my all. No matter if its' the 2 (shooting guard) or the 1 (point guard), I'm going to go out there and play as hard as I can."

And that effort from Bradley and the rest of the C's is all Rivers has to hear in order for his belief in this team to be remain as strong now as it was prior to Rondo's injury.

"Obviously that's a blow; it's a huge blow for us," Rivers said about losing Rondo for the season. "When something like this happens, someone will find someone that's already in our locker room that's going to play terrific. And I have no idea who it is."

When you consider how the Celtics struggled with Rondo, the idea of not having him will surely bring about even more pessimism in regards to Boston's chances to be successful moving forward.

"Well you can write the obituary. I'm not," Rivers said. "You can go ahead. But I'm not. We won tonight, and so that way I look at it is, we're going to stay in there. In my opinion, we're going nowhere."

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Following Thursday’s 105-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics will be on the prowl to rebound – literally – from its first defeat of the season.

Because for all that did not go right in Thursday night’s loss, the way Boston was beaten on the boards stands out emphatically.

“They got 24 more shots than us. We only turned it over (12) times,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. “So that’s the obvious place they’re getting their possessions, on the glass. That’s going to be the number one thing, that has been the number one thing. It’s something we’ve talked about. We have to get better at it.”


Boston was out-rebounded 55-36 on the boards which heavily factored into Chicago’s 18-5 advantage in second-chance points.

In the Celtics' 122-117 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday, Boston won the overall rebounding battle 47-44, but had just 12 offensive rebounds compared to Brooklyn's 15 offensive boards. Despite the close margin, the Nets won the battle on the offensive glass running away, outscoring the Celtics 23-13 in second-chance points.

Stevens decided to start Tyler Zeller ahead of Amir Johnson to begin the third quarter, hoping Zeller would be a better matchup on the glass than Johnson who did not grab a single rebound in the 11 minutes of court time he got in the first half.

While Zeller did do a few good things on the glass and scoring in half-court sets, it wasn’t enough to swing the momentum Chicago was steadily gaining due to its ability to control the boards.

“I wasn’t real surprised but at the same time I knew it could happen,” Zeller told reporters, referring to Stevens’ decision to have him start the second half. “They did a good job of coming out and setting the tone. They beat us up on the boards, especially the first half. It’s something we have to get better at and continue to grow at.”

And it’s not a one-player or one-position issue, either.

Usually we think of bigs when it comes to rebounding. But Boston’s guards need to step up their rebounding game as well.

The struggles thus far have to be put in the context of this being just two games, the latter being the season opener for the Bulls who were jacked up more than usual due to it being the first game for Chicago native Dwyane Wade and ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo.

“We have to focus on boxing out,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Guards have to do a better job. Guys like me, Al (Horford), Amir (Johnson), Tyler (Zeller) ... We have to do a good job of coming in the weak side and grabbing those; just focus on it, pay more attention to detail.”