Rondo misses Celtics practice for knee checkup

Rondo misses Celtics practice for knee checkup
November 26, 2013, 4:30 pm
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WALTHAM, Mass. — Rajon Rondo was a no-show at the Celtics' practice facility on Tuesday. Head coach Brad Stevens said the four-time All-star was excused for a routine checkup on his surgically repaired right knee.

While no timetable for Rondo's return has been determined, his progress toward a return to the floor sooner rather than later is undeniable.

Rondo still has not been cleared for full contact, but he has been working with the starting unit in some non-contact drills.

While it's never a good idea to read too much into how a player performs in practice against no defense, you can count Jared Sullinger among those excited about what he has seen so far.

"He still has his quickness," Sullinger said of Rondo. "He can still finish with either hand. He's still crafty. Rondo's Rondo. When he gets 100 percent, look out. He's going to be back in full effect."

The Celtics have been a competitive bunch most of this season which in many ways mirrors Rondo's demeanor and approach to the game.

"He's someone great to have as a leader on the floor," Boston's Brandon Bass told "Playing with stardom, won a championship. He's battled tons of times. It's great to have him on your side."

Rondo suffered a torn right ACL on January 25 at Atlanta. However, there was swelling in the knee which delayed his surgery until the middle of February. His rehabilitation routine has picked up in its intensity in recent days, fueling speculation that his return to the floor will be soon.

The date of Rondo's return depends on his health, but he has made it clear that he won't return until he's mentally ready to play at a high level.

Sullinger, who underwent season-ending back surgery this past spring, says getting back on the floor following an injury is a bigger challenge mentally than physically.

Having gone through the rehabilitation following a serious injury, Sullinger knows how challenging the mental aspect of recovery can be.

"I know where everybody's coming from," Sullinger said. "Especially with my back. I was nervous for the first blow, nervous for the first charge. Everything was scary at first. Once I realized, I was more in shock when I hit the floor and then got back up. I thought I was hurt, mentally I thought I was hurt. But physically I wasn't. Once I broke that barrier, I was fine. It's just a mental barrier you have to break."

And it is that mental barrier that Rondo insists won't exist when he returns to action.

"Basketball is a game of instincts. You have to go out there and just play the game," Rondo said recently. "You can't second-guess anything you do out there. The way I play -- run, jump, change direction so quickly -- you don't have time to think about the injury you had. When I get to that point and I'm doing it with contact, I'll play."