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."

Bird not renewing Vogel's contract; McHale not a candidate

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Bird not renewing Vogel's contract; McHale not a candidate

Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, a good friend of Brad Stevens, is out in Indiana.

Pacers president Larry Bird made the official announcement on Thursday.

Vogel’s contract was up in Indiana and Bird elected to not renew it. That, according to Bird, was hard for Vogel to hear.

Both Bird and Vogel spoke shortly before Bird’s press conference with members of the media, and that’s when Bird gave him the news.

There is speculation now as to who will take over as head coach. With Kevin McHale removing himself from consideration for the Sacramento Kings job, there was some thought that he could become the head coach of the Pacers under good friend and former teammate Bird.

That isn’t going to happen either.

Which players fill Celtics Top 5 draft needs?

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Which players fill Celtics Top 5 draft needs?

BOSTON – When it comes to the NBA Draft, nobody has the flexibility to address a need the way the Celtics can this year.
 
If you are a draft-eligible player expected to be among the 60 names called next month, you are within the Celtics’ reach of being drafted.
 
That’s what having eight draft picks (three in the first round and five in the second) can do for you.
 
And while the Celtics have lots of needs, here’s a look at five specifically that they can address through the draft, and the best players to fill those voids.
 
5. Undervalued talent: Marquese Chriss
Getting players whose talent exceeds where they are drafted is certainly something the Celtics would love to do in a year when they have so many picks. Marquese Chriss of Washington could be that player. He’s a 6-9 forward who in this small-ball era in the NBA, can play both forward positions and have a matchup advantage at both spots. He’s targeted to be selected in the middle of the first round which makes him a prime target of the Celtics who could tab him with their second, first-round selection which will be the 16th overall pick.
 
 
4. Rim Protection
You have to give the Celtics props for having a defense that ranked 4th in the NBA despite no legit rim protector other than 6-9 Amir Johnson. As good as Johnson was, the Celtics need to add at least another player or two with rim protection as their strength. Enter Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis. He’s limited offensively in terms of what he can do, but his knack for blocking/altering shots, lateral quickness, vertical leap and overall strength makes him a force in the middle. He too is a player Boston has to give some thought to selecting if he’s still on the board (he’s considered a possible late-lottery pick) when it’s time for the Celtics to choose at No. 16.
 
 
3. Defensive versatility
One of the reasons Boston’s defense was so good this season was because of its ability to make defensive switches and it not create huge mismatches. Having players with the talent and skill to defend multiple positions will remain something the Celtics will also value on draft night. That’s why Jaylen Brown of Cal could be in the mix depending on where the pick Boston gets from Brooklyn, eventually falls. If it’s outside of the top-4, Brown becomes a viable possibility. He gets props for his strength and ability to use it as a means of scoring. But NBA teams are just as excited about his potential as a defender, already possessing an NBA-ready body with the tools to potentially defend all three perimeter positions.
 
2. Wing scoring
The Celtics ranked 11th in 3-pointers taken per game (26.1) but only 28th in 3-point percentage (.335) which shows that they were getting plenty of long-range shots but unable to make them with any consistency. Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield could change all that. He was hands-down the best shooter in college basketball this past season. And with him being a senior, he’s more likely to come in and make an immediate impact than many of his younger draft brethren who are judged more on potential than proven work. If the Celtics wind up with a top-3 pick, Hield would be a bit of a stretch. But if Boston is on the clock with the No. 4, 5 or 6th pick, he should be on their short list of possible targets.
 
 
1. Superstar potential
The best shot Boston has of landing that superstar they’ve longed for, is to land the top overall pick. And with that pick, there’s a growing consensus that Duke’s Brandon Ingram should be that guy rather than LSU’s Ben Simmons. Ingram has a game that in many ways is reminiscent to a young Kevin Durant. But at this stage, Ingram is a better 3-point shooter (he shot 41 percent on 3s in his lone season at Duke) which is one of the many areas Boston could use a boost through the draft.
 
 

Ainge: McHale's clothesline on Rambis was 'sweet'

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Ainge: McHale's clothesline on Rambis was 'sweet'

If you know anything about basketball in the 1980s and early 1990s, you know it was a physical game. And in the playoffs, that physicality multiplied.

The Boston Celtics were no exception to that. There are countless highlights of Celtics players getting into it with their opponents, but perhaps the most famous incident was when Kevin McHale clothelined the Lakers' Kurt Rambis in Game 4 of the 1984 NBA Finals.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was a member of that team, and discussed that play on Thursday morning with the guys from the Toucher and Rich Show.

“I remember that we were at shootaround the morning of the Kevin McHale / Kurt Rambis clothesline incident,” Ainge said. “They had just beat us by 30 . . . it was Hollywood showtime Lakers all the way and we were humiliated. We came to practice the next day and we had some guys chirping about that, like, ‘We have to take some hard fouls. We cannot let these guys fast break over us and dunk on us in transition. We have to take some hard fouls.’ And I said to the whole team, I like screamed at them, I said, ‘Hey listen, I’m booed in every arena in this league because I’m the only guy who takes hard fouls. I need some of you guys to take some hard fouls. And sure enough Kevin clothelined Kurt Rambis and that was sweet.”