Rondo shows improvement in shooting, agressiveness in win


Rondo shows improvement in shooting, agressiveness in win

BOSTON For as long as Rajon Rondo has been in the NBA, the offseason has consisted of -- in some shape or form -- him working to improve his jumpsuit.

It's still early, but Rondo certainly showed the kind of jump-shooting promise that the C's will need in order for this season to be another successful one.

Rondo led all Celtics with 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting, as the C's closed out the exhibition season with an 81-73 win over Toronto. It was a game that featured a number of highlight-worthy performances.

There was Jermaine O'Neal dominating the interior defensively. Rookie center Greg Stiemsma had a strong performance as well with seven points, five rebounds and a couple of blocked shots. And rookie guard E'Twaun Moore once again came up with big shots when called upon, as he finished with 11 points.

But the man who set the tone on Wednesday - and to some degree, sets the tone most nights - was Rondo. Not only was he knocking down jumpers, but he was pulling up for them without any hesitation - something he did not do nearly enough of last season.

"We want him to just shoot it," said coach Doc Rivers. "I don't care how many times he shoots."

When you look at Rondo's numbers shooting from the field last season (47.5 percent) and throughout his career (48.6 percent), it gives the impression that he's a pretty good shooter.

He is . . . when driving to the basket or tossing up one of his hard-to-block scoop shots in transition.

But when it comes to hitting jumpers from 15-feet or further away, Rondo hasn't been nearly as efficient.

As good as Rondo is in breaking down opposing team's defense, he becomes even more effective when teams have to be concerned with his jumpshot. That forces defenders to play him more closely.

With his speed and ability to draw contact, there's the potential for him to get to the free throw line often.

Against the Raptors, Rondo had six free throw attempts (he made 5) while playing about 23 minutes. To put that in perspective, Rondo only had five games all season last year in which he attempted six or more free throws.

"That's . . . we need that," Rivers said.

Especially with Paul Pierce (right heel) out indefinitely.

The Captain has missed all but one preseason practice, and his status for Sunday's season opener at New York is questionable.

Either Marquis Daniels or Sasha Pavlovic will get the starting nod if Pierce is unable to play. Daniels filled in for Pierce in the C's first preseason game against Toronto, and Pavlovic got the starting nod on Wednesday against the Raptors.

"I think it's just a thing, confidence with (Rondo)," said C's guard Keyon Dooling. "He's fun to watch. I was telling him earlier, I got a 2-year-old son and I want him to play ball like Rondo."

Playing like Rondo can be a very good thing - especially when it includes knocking down jumpers and free throws.

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”