Rondo ready to return, says he has nothing to prove

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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."

Warriors didn't play takeaway; Thunder played giveway

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Warriors didn't play takeaway; Thunder played giveway

The Oklahoma City Thunder choked. I mean, they got a gigantic tumble weed lodged in their larynx.

The better team did not win. However, the Golden State Warriors are actually better than the Thunder in one category:

Identity.

The Warriors know who they are and how they have to win. It never changes. Fire away, baby, and sooner or later the shots will fall . . . especially if the opposition has no clue who they are and how they got the lead in the first place.

I'm not sure if the Warriors are a great team defensively, or if OKC simply couldn't run an offense to extend its leads in Games 6 and 7. The best basketball analyst for my money is Kenny "The Jet" Smith. He accurately pointed out that one ill-advised 3-point attempt by Russell Westbrook in the first half crushed the Thunder’s chance to extend their lead into double digits. The same happened with a bad 3 in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors can kill a rally or get back into a game as soon their 3s fall. That is how they win . . . period. The Thunder tried to play Golden State's game at the worst times. OKC forgot that ball movement, player motion and setting up Kevin Durant for the best shot possible is how to win, not by hoisting panic-ridden 3s from the top of the key. To be fair, in the first half Durant did good job getting others involved. But when the Warriors got on a roll, the OKC offense froze with fear.

It simply amazes me how the Thunder would leave the paint wide open on the offensive end. No cuts, no pick-and-rolls (or not enough of them, anyway). Simply give the ball to Durant and then stand there. Or worse! KD gives the ball to Westbrook or another teammate and then he stands there! My God, give up the ball and move, Kevin! To me it was Durant’s stagnation without the ball that cost Oklahoma City a shot at the title.

Golden State was a very opportunistic team. It was not going to take the game or games from you. But if you wanted to give the Warriors a chance, no matter how slight, they'd accept it. And that’s exactly what OKC did.

Billy Donovan, Westbrook and Durant should feel sick to their stomach. If they don’t, something is wrong with them. My suspicion all three have driven the porcelain bus. Figuratively.

I was rooting for Durant because finally, finally Westbrook was buying into the team concept. But in the end it was Durant who let his team -- and city -- down,