No more denying Rondo's an improved shooter

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No more denying Rondo's an improved shooter

BOSTON Even with a fourth all-star berth under his belt, even with his impressive field goal percentage this season, teams still aren't convinced that Rajon Rondo has turned into a decent perimeter shooter.

While pouring in a season-high 30 points in Boston's 100-99 overtime loss to Chicago, Rondo shot 12-for-21 from the field with most of his shots made being jumpers.

Rondo played with the kind of aggressive demeanor offensively that was needed on a night when the Celtics just couldn't get much offensive punch from the bench or from most of the starters.

That is, everyone except Rondo.

While he remains a pass-first point guard, he continues to blossom into a more reliable scorer who can also score with jumpers, too.

"I thought he kind of surveyed the game and thought, 'I have to go get this for us,"' Rivers said. "And I thought he did that with his speed."

And the C's needed every point he could muster up with so many core guys struggling.

That's why Rivers had no problem with Rondo being more of a scorer on Friday.

"Guys were struggling; you could see Kevin (Garnett) early missing shots but playing hard. Paul (Pierce) ... he (Rondo) saw that and went and got points. I thought tonight was exactly what he should have done."

Rivers said opponents do recognize that Rondo's shooting the ball better than he has in past years from the perimeter.

"They don't believe it," Rivers said. "At the end of the day, that's not going to change this year. He can make 30 in a row, and that's not going to change."

That's not a problem for Rondo who came into Friday's game as the third-highest shooting percentage among guards in the NBA, and is currently shooting 49.6 percent from the field.

Celtics guard Courtney Lee remembers how his former teams in Houston, Orlando and New Jersey, would prepare to face Rondo and the C's.

"When we played against him, we wanted him to shoot the jump-shot," said Lee, who added that Rondo's play of late will change that.

"Teams are going to have to start respecting it," Lee said. "Because he's been putting in a lot of work after practice. I try to be the last one out of there, but he's in there shooting shots, too. You can see it's paying off."

Rondo said he wasn't surprised that teams continue to give him open looks from the perimeter.

"I just try to take what the defense gave me," said Rondo, who has had 13 games in his career of 25 or more points with four coming against the Bulls. "Our bigs got the rebound out to me early in transition, I was able to attack and create cross-matches were (Joakim) Noah or (Carlos) Boozer were picking me up. I just try to use my speed to go past those guys."

Not only does Rivers not anticipate teams changing up their approach to Rondo now, he believes the same strategy will apply to whoever the C's might face in the playoffs.

"That's just how our league works. You have to make them a believer for about year before they believe it."

Ainge: Groin injury will 'probably' keep Thomas from playing Friday

Ainge: Groin injury will 'probably' keep Thomas from playing Friday

There’s still no concrete answer on how long Isaiah Thomas’ right groin injury will keep him sidelined, but the 5-foot-9 guard probably will not play against Toronto on Friday.
 
Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, addressed Thomas’ availability on 98.5 the Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich show Thursday morning.
 
“It’s day to day,” said Ainge, who added that Thomas had an injection into his thigh muscle. “He is a warrior; he loves to play. He’ll be back faster than most players would be back after an injury. At the same time, we have to be really careful with Isaiah over the long haul and make sure he doesn’t come back and injure it.”
 
Thomas did not play in Boston’s 117-87 win at Orlando on Wednesday night, his first missed game since the 2014-15 season.
 
He is ranked among the NBA’s top-10 scorers with a career-high 26.0 points-per-game average, in addition to leading the Celtics in assists (6.2) per game.
 
Thomas has been effective while playing through an assortment of injuries during his time with Boston. But a groin injury isn't something that can just be played through,  which is why the Celtics are wisely shutting him down now.
 
“We’ll try and get him as much rest as we can and get him back on the court when he’s ready,” Ainge said.