Good, bad, & ugly: Rondo's minutes restriction lifted

Good, bad, & ugly: Rondo's minutes restriction lifted
February 9, 2014, 10:30 pm
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BOSTON — Rajon Rondo hasn't quite regained the explosive off-the-dribble gear he is accustomed to shifting into at a moment's notice, but Sunday was yet another milestone in his return to All-Star form.

He played a season-high 37 minutes in Sunday's 102-91 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, tallying a near triple-double of 15 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds.

Following the loss, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens revealed that the four-time All-Star will no longer have minutes restrictions placed on him.

However, the team has yet to clear him to play in back-to-back games, so Rondo will be out for Monday's game at Milwaukee.

While announcing Rondo won't play against the Bucks, Stevens added that he "probably will be cleared to play in back-to-backs very soon. I asked the question right after we met prior to the game and it sounds like, again, that's sooner rather than later but no time issues."

After the game, Rondo said he wouldn't describe his status as being "completely off" minutes restrictions.

Don't expect to see Rondo playing 40 minutes anytime soon, "but when I'm out there," he said, "my adrenaline is going. I feel fine."

And while the loss was disappointing, Rondo did reach another Celtics milestone on Sunday. With his second assist of the game, he became the sixth Celtic to tally 4,000 career assists for the Green team. He now has 4,010.

"It's definitely an honor to have so many in this organization," Rondo said.

Rondo's play was indeed one of the few positives Boston takes away from Sunday's loss which snapped their three-game winning streak.

And with that, here's the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Sunday's loss.

The Good

Chris Johnson

Once again, head coach Brad Stevens found himself playing a little bit of the 'what if...' game in regards to Johnson's playing time. "Maybe I should’ve played Chris Johnson more and earlier, and then we’d feel better about ourselves," Stevens said. "Because I thought he, obviously, he made some shots late that got us back in it, or not got us back in it but made it reasonable.” Despite playing just under 15 minutes, Johnson provided a nice late-game spark and finished with a career-high 14 points. The scoring outburst was well after the Mavericks had assumed a firm grip on the game, but it was yet another example as to why the Celtics were so eager to lock up Johnson with a four-year, team-friendly deal.

The Bad

Perimeter defense

Dirk Nowitzki (20 points, five rebounds, four assists) had a solid night as expected, but the bigger problem for Boston was limiting the impact of Dallas' guards who wisely played off the attention directed at Nowitzki. Ellis, whose availability wasn't determined until shortly before tip-off because of a hamstring injury, chipped in with 11 points and five rebounds. And point man Jose Calderon had 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting along with five assists to just one turnover.

The Ugly

Boston's shooting

The fourth quarter aside, this was as bad as we've seen the Celtics shoot the ball all season. Dallas, one of the league's worst teams defensively, used its frontcourt length to make life tough for Boston's bigs as well as their guards on penetration or lay-up attempts.  For most of the game, Boston was on pace for a season-low shooting from the field. Fortunately for them, they won't dwell on the loss too long, not with a road game at Milwaukee on Monday night.