Rondo has playoff game for the ages despite Celtics loss


Rondo has playoff game for the ages despite Celtics loss

MIAMI When the final horn sounded, there was nothing else Rajon Rondo could do.

You always hear about players leaving everything they had on the floor. More often than not, it's just talk.

With Rondo on Wednesday night?

It was the truth.

The 6-foot-1 point guard delivered the kind of performance that's seldom seen in the NBA.

But as impressive as Rondo's night was, it was a bittersweet experience as the Celtics lost, 115-111, in overtime.

Rondo didn't just lead all players - he lapped them - in scoring a career-high 44 points on 16-for-24 shooting. And once again, he was flirting with a 10th playoff career triple-double, but fell short with 10 assists and eight rebounds.

"He had a great game," said Celtics forward Mickael Pietrus. "That's the way we want him to play. He was doing everything."

Actually, Rondo doing everything has been a pretty common refrain for the Celtics' playmaker all season.

But on Wednesday, it was different.

Not only did he dominate most of every minute he was on the floor, he actually wound up playing every single minute of the game.

Rondo had the attention and respect of all the Heat players and coaching staff heading into Wednesday night's game.

But the performance he put on seems to have been even greater than anything they had imagined.

"Rondo was absolutely amazing," said Miami's LeBron James. "He made all the plays and tried to will his team to a victory. He showed tonight why he's an all-pro and one of the superstars in this league. He's an unbelievable player. He gave everything he had tonight."

And as good as it was, it still wasn't enough for the Celtics to even this series at 1-1 and with that, assume home court advantage.

That's why the fact that it's one of the greatest games ever played by a Celtic player in the playoffs, has little to no importance to Rondo at this time.

"It's irrelevant," he said. "We lost. It's as simple as that."

Rondo's comments are not at all surprising.

He has maintained for years that individual accolades will always take a back seat to winning games.

"You know, it's tough to have him play that way and not win the game," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Because he did basically everything right. We had a lot of opportunities to win the game."

And that only adds to the disappointment and frustration the Celtics feel, knowing that they let a very winnable game slip away from them.

Rivers said the sting of Wednesday's loss will last around 24 hours for his players.

After that, it's on to the next game.

"It's corny, but they've won two games at home, and now we go to a place that we're comfortable in, and we have to win two games at home," Rivers said. "Then we'll see from there."

Well aware that the officiating would once again be a talking point after the game, Rivers was quick to place the blame for Wednesday's loss squarely on him and his players.

"We just have to play better," he said. "We're not going to blame we have to play better. And we will."

It's hard to imagine Rondo would be close to having as big an impact in Game 3 as he did in Wednesday's Game 2 loss. But if he does struggle, he won't place the blame on fatigue - he played all 53 minutes on Wednesday - or anything like that.

"I wanted to play every minute," Rondo said. "I thought I didn't hurt my team by me playing every minute. I wanted to go out there and continue to do my best for my team."

He did just that on Wednesday, coming up with the kind of performance that ranks among the all-time greats not just with the Celtics, but in playoff lore as well.

"He is an incredible talent," said C's guard Keyon Dooling. "He is doing some things that only elite players have done."

To see Rondo evolve into the kind of player that can take over not just a playoff game - but an Eastern Conference finals game - speaks volumes as to how much he has grown and learned from the Big Three that's now the Big Four with him included.

"We feed off what he's doing now," said C's guard Ray Allen.

A worrisome wait for Celtics' final roster candidates Hunter and Young

A worrisome wait for Celtics' final roster candidates Hunter and Young

WALTHAM, Mass. – For most of training camp, R.J. Hunter and James Young have played it cool when asked about their shaky status with the Celtics heading into this season.
Both have talked about not letting it affect their friendship, which according to multiple team sources, is true.
But when it comes to the pressure of having your basketball future thrown into total chaos within the next 48-72 hours, that’s a different story.
Prior to practice Friday, Danny Ainge – the man who will decide their basketball fate – spent time talking with each of them on the sidelines, doing his best to keep their spirits up at a time of uncertainty.
The Celtics have a number of players whose basketball futures were in a similar state of limbo.
Amir Johnson was taken in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons with the 56th overall pick.
It was a veteran team that afforded Johnson few opportunities to prove his worth.
“All I tried to do was learn as much as I could in training camp, and pick up things as quickly as possible,” Johnson told “When you’re a second round pick or undrafted, you have to do all you can to make a good impression.”
Isaiah Thomas echoed similar sentiments.
Thomas was the 60th pick – the last player selected – in the 2011 NBA draft, putting the odds of him just making an NBA roster slim to none.
Since then, he has become an All-Star who is easily the best player ever selected at that point in an NBA draft.
But like Hunter and Young, the pressure of not necessarily knowing your basketball fate can be worrisome.
“It’s tough not knowing, but at the end of the day all you can do is be the best at whatever they ask of you,” Thomas told “If it’s running a play, run that play the best way you know how. If it’s going to get a cup of water, be the best at getting that cup a water. It’s all about leaving your all out there. If you do that, you can live with the results because at that point, you did all you can do.”
Outwardly, both Hunter and Young have adopted that approach to the training camp which they knew going in would likely end with one of them being waived or traded.
And while each has shown noticeable growth through training camp, neither has done enough to separate themselves good or bad.
Most of Hunter’s bright moments have been balanced with struggles or inconsistencies.
Ditto for Young, who is headed into his third NBA season, while this will be Hunter’s second.
Ainge, the C's president of basketball operations, does not take the decision he and his front office has to make lightly. He is more than aware that the player he waives could potentially turn out to be a better pro than the one he keeps.
And this decision could potentially come back and haunt the Celtics if he doesn’t get it right.
As much as we talk about the players feeling pressure, Ainge and his staff are under a bit of pressure too when you consider both Hunter and Young were players he picked in the first round of their drafts.
And both players at the time were considered draft-night steals because each had been projected to go higher than where the Celtics picked them.
But at this point, neither has made a significant impact in the NBA, which is why both are on the cusp of being waived.
That said, they have done enough to where those flashes of strong play have given Ainge and his staff reason to pause and with that, make what all agree will be a well thought-out, difficult decision.
“Sometimes guys just cut themselves. Sometimes guys just win jobs, overwhelmingly win it,” Ainge said. “The guys that are in question have all played really well. I guess that’s refreshing. I’m happy for them that they are all playing well under the stress and pressure of trying to make a team and make a roster. I’m proud of all of them.
And when asked about having to cut a former first-round pick, Ainge responded, “there’s a lot of first-round picks that don’t make it in the NBA. So I feel confident, pretty comfortable that all of our guys are still going to be playing in the NBA.”

Celtics sign former Laker second-rounder Ryan Kelly

Celtics sign former Laker second-rounder Ryan Kelly

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics made one more roster move on Friday, but not the one many were anticipating.

Instead of trimming the training camp roster down to 15 players, the Celtics expanded it by signing Ryan Kelly.

The 6-foot-11 forward appeared in six games for the Atlanta Hawks during the preseason, averaging 4.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.

A former second round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2013, Kelly has appeared in 147 games with career averages of 6.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

Boston already has a stacked roster at the power forward/center position, which is why they decided to waive second round pick and former Providence College star Ben Bentil earlier on Friday.

The addition of Kelly, on the surface at least, doesn't make a lot of sense.

But the Celtics are trying to build a team for the present while keeping an eye on the future.

When the Celtics waived Bentil, they did so with the knowledge that he was unlikely to sign with their Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

But with Kelly, the veteran big man will likely wind up with the Red Claws which will allow the Celtics to get a closer look at him without impacting their roster status which is currently at 16, one above the league-maximum.

The final roster spot will come down to James Young and R.J. Hunter. The Celtics have until 5 p.m. Monday to make a decision, a decision that team officials have repeatedly said in recent days will come down to the wire.