Rondo the scorer takes over in Game 3

765584.jpg

Rondo the scorer takes over in Game 3

PHILADELPHIA NBA scouting reports on Rajon Rondo vary with the exception of one thing -- they all want him to shoot. A lot.

The Philadelphia 76ers got their wish in Game 3, but the outcome wasn't quite what they were looking for.

Rondo, looking for his shot early and often, made the Sixers pay for allowing him to get into a flow scoring the ball.

When he's doing that, the Celtics are difficult to compete with, let alone defeat.

Philadelphia can attest to that after the C's 107-91 win, a game that wasn't nearly as close as the still-lopsided final score would indicate.

Rondo had 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting, to go with 14 assists and just one turnover.

Of his 23 points, 13 came in the first quarter.

The game plan coming in was to get the ball to Kevin Garnett on the post as often as possible. But the Sixers defense was so focused on taking that away and limiting the touches Paul Pierce got, they left Rondo with little choice but to attack a relatively wide open paint area.

Rondo said his success as a scorer began with the Celtics collectively playing good defense.

"I got out in transition," he said. "We got out as a team in transition, but it started when we got a couple stops early. Then we went back and forth trading baskets, but other than that, I had some matchups in transition and wanted to try and attack the rim."

It was the kind of performance that Rondo delivers often during the playoffs.

But there was a different kind of focus with Rondo on Wednesday night, the kind that speaks to how locked in he was heading into Game 4.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers noticed Rondo seemed, well, different during the team's Wednesday morning shoot-around.

"Rondo was extremely serious in shoot-around," Rivers said. "I thought he really set the tone for our mental approach and that's what we need to stay in."

Said Rondo: "I believed we needed this game. It wasn't just me, it was everyone."

Even when it comes to praise, Rondo's still in pass-first mode.

But as he continues to evolve as an elite NBA point guard, he's continuing to improve in figuring out when to dominate the game as a passer, and when to torch all those scouting reports about his shooting and showcase his ability to score the ball.

"Teams dictate their defense by trying to play off of Rondo and do different things," Rivers said. "When Rondo becomes an offensive threat ... Kevin becomes a better offensive player, and Paul (Pierce), become better offensive players because you can't spend the game trying to help off of him. I thought he set the tone for us."

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics are about to hit one of the toughest stretches of the season and they’ll have to do it for at least one more game without their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas. 
 
Thomas, who suffered a right groin injury on Monday against the Houston Rockets, did not play on Wednesday against Orlando and said that he will not play in Friday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. 
 
“It’s day to day. I want to play. I want to be out there but it’s the smart decision to hold out and wait until it’s 100 percent,” Thomas said during a Season of Giving event for children of the Military Friends Foundation held at the Celtics’ practice facility. “If it was a playoff game I would be out there for sure.”
 
However, after consulting with a number of medical personnel, Thomas decided the best thing for him and the Celtics was to sit out Friday’s game which, along with Wednesday in Orlando, will be the first two he has missed since the 2014-2015 season. 
 
Thomas said there’s no specific timetable for his return, but he said he is planning to travel with the team to Oklahoma City for their matchup against the Thunder on Sunday. 
 
“It’s eating me a live to sit, but I have to do what’s best for my body, I have to do what’s best for this team,” Thomas said. “I need to be 100 percent healthy to give this team what I can give them.”
 
The Celtics are hoping for similar success they had Wednesday in Orlando (a 117-87 victory) on Friday against Toronto.
 
“They played a hell of a game last night,” Thomas said. “They’ll be ready tomorrow.”
 
The fact that Thomas intends to travel with the team is a good sign that the groin injury isn’t too serious. 
 
If he doesn’t play at Oklahoma City, that likely means he’ll return to action on Wednesday at San Antonio. 
 
“I’m going to do what I can to get back out there on the court,” Thomas said. “I gotta be smart about this. I don’t want this to linger on this season.”
 
Replacing Smart in the lineup against Toronto will most likely be Marcus Smart. 
 
Smart, who has been a replacement starter at small forward and point guard this season, had 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against the Magic.