Rondo showing signs of fatigue in practice

Rondo showing signs of fatigue in practice
December 26, 2013, 5:00 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

WALTHAM, Mass. — It was a sight you will seldom see in an NBA game, real or a video-game equivalent: Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk beating Rajon Rondo down the floor.

Rondo told reporters earlier this week that conditioning more than anything else, remains the biggest hurdle yet for him to clear in his comeback to the game after a torn ACL injury in January.

"My endurance is key for me," Rondo said after Boston's 106-79 loss at Indiana on Sunday. "I don't want to come back and not be fully 100 percent as far as my health and me being in shape as well. The worst thing is for me to not be in shape and have another injury. I want to make sure I'm in basketball condition shape."

Rondo's concerns about his conditioning were indeed validated near the end of Boston's practice on Thursday.

"I would agree with his assessment," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, who added that less-than-ideal conditioning is not unusual when you consider how long it has been since Rondo played in a game.

The four-time All-Star suffered a right torn ACL on Jan. 25 at Atlanta, and had it surgically repaired a couple weeks later.

He has since been cleared for full contact practice, and said the earliest he would return to the court would be the middle of next month.

Figuring out how to steadily improve his conditioning is a much greater challenge for Rondo and the Celtics than most might imagine.

"How do you get to game condition without a lot of game opportunity, without a lot of practice opportunity and real game-like scenarios?" Stevens said.

The Celtics did their part on Thursday in trying to help accelerate the process with drills designed to help improve his conditioning all the while giving both him and some of his newer teammates a better feel for how to function effectively with one another on the floor.

"He (Rondo) was huffing and puffing, but that was part of it," Stevens said. "Part of why we did it, especially after three days off."

But such exercises have to be done in the context of what's best not only for Rondo but also for the Celtics as a whole.

"We can do a little bit more, but you can't wear your other guys down," Stevens said. "It's a long season for everybody."

Said Rondo: "I just want to practice, get as much practice time as possible. I just want to get back in a rhythm, a flow of things."