Rondo ready to return, says he has nothing to prove

749321.jpg

Rondo ready to return, says he has nothing to prove

WALTHAM Boston's Game 2 win at Atlanta was certainly a different kind of night for Rajon Rondo who for a change was getting assists - and not handing them out - from his teammates.

The entire Celtics squad rallied in his absence for the Game 2 victory after Rondo's late-game implosion in Game 1 landed him a one-game suspension.

No matter how well or woeful anyone played in Game 2, a Celtics loss would have been pinned on Rondo being suspended whether it was warranted or not.

Fortunately for him and the C's, that's a non-issue now.

"We did this for him (Rondo) tonight," C's guard Keyon Dooling said following Boston's Game 2 win. "This is a tribute to Rondo; we've got his back."

The bigger concern is how will Rondo respond in Game 3 on Friday, a game in which the Celtics have to win in order to maintain their home court advantage.

Rondo understands the importance of Friday's game as the Celtics will look to win their first game in this series with Rondo in the lineup.

"I don't have anything to prove," Rondo said. "Why would I have anything to prove? I just want to win; that's it. This is a game I been playing my entire life. The world knows what I can do; like I said, the world knows what I can do; go out there and continue to do what I do best and that's be the best point guard in the NBA."

One of the keys to the C's Game 2 win was that Paul Pierce, playing the role of point-forward for most of the night with Rondo out, began the game with a very aggressive brand of basketball that led to him scoring Boston's first nine points.

C's coach Doc Rivers expects Rondo to come out attacking as well, although Rondo says he'll look to impact the game the way he does most nights - as a passer.

"I'm a pass-first point guard," said Rondo, who led the NBA in assists (11.7) this season. "It's not like I try to go out there and dominate the ball as far as shots. I try to keep my teammates happy, and get a win."

And remember, Rondo has missed 14 games this season - that includes Tuesday's win by the Celtics - during three separate stints.

Boston's record this season when he returns to the lineup?

3-0.

In those first games back to the floor, Rondo has indeed fallen right back in line with what he loves to do, and that's pass the ball to teammates. He's averaging 11 assists in those three games, but averaging just 2.3 points. Aside from assists and points, Rondo's return in those games displaying the kind of poise that a playmaker has to have this time of year.

While no one wants to see Rondo muffle his emotions too much, there is a fine line that he crosses occasionally.

There's no such thing as a good time for the Celtics to not have Rondo, but there are times - like Game 2 on Tuesday - that are definitely worst times than most.

In January, Rondo was suspended for two games after throwing the ball at an official in Detroit. And most recently, he was tossed out of Game 1 by official Marc Davis after Rondo bumped him, and the league came out with a ruling later on that suspended him for just one game.

"Try not to let my emotions get the best of me; but I am an emotional player," Rondo sad. "Try to keep my composure and my emotions to myself, but it was a heat of the battle moment. I wanted to win."

So do the rest of the Celtics, well aware that their chances of doing just that are much greater with Rondo on the floor than without him.

And the sooner Game 3 arrives, the sooner Rondo can put his Game 2 suspension.

"You learn from your mistakes. It's not the end of the world," Rondo said. "The great thing about it, the series is 1-1 and we're in boston."

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

BOSTON – When you look at Avery Bradley’s growth this season, seeing the tremendous strides he has made offensively is clear.

But at the heart of Bradley’s game remains a desire to dominate a matchup as a defender, something that was alive and well on Monday as he made his return to the floor after missing the four previous games with an Achilles strain.

MORE:

Bradley’s defense would prove instrumental in Boston’s 108-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

He was 2-for-9 from the field and played nearly 33 minutes against Hornets which is just a couple minutes under his season average of court time.

Usually he’s responsible for providing a boost at both ends of the floor.

But considering his long lay-off, it was clear early on that he was locked in defensively more so than looking to get back on track shooting the ball.

“You take any type of games off in this league, your rhythm and all that you gotta get it back,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.

Even though his shots weren’t falling, Bradley was on top of his game defensively while guarding 6-foot-8 Nicolas Batum who is six inches taller but never was a factor on Monday.

Batum finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked what he got out of Bradley in his return to action.

“I thought he (Bradley) was great,” Stevens told CSNNE.com. “He did everything we needed him to do. We knew there would be a little bit of rust (shooting the ball), but that’s part of you playing your way back into it.”

As far as Bradley’s stifling defense on Batum, Stevens said, “You have to do that against Batum. I thought Avery did a really good job of that. It’s a hard matchup no matter what way you go. Batum, giving up inches to him. He (Bradley) was there on the catch all night.”

And as Bradley gradually gets back into a flow, he’ll regain the form offensively that made him one of the NBA’s better two-way players this season.