Rondo starts 5-on-5 scrimmage with Celtics teammates

Rondo starts 5-on-5 scrimmage with Celtics teammates
December 20, 2013, 3:45 pm
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WALTHAM, Mass. — The cross-over, dribble-drive into the lane. The quick pass up court for a lay-up. Getting knocked to the ground only to bounce up quickly.

It was Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo doing in practice what Celtics Nation hopes to see him do in games soon.

Although Rondo has been cleared for full contact practice, Friday's pick-up game was not on the docket of things-to-do by the players.

The impromptu five-on-five game was initiated by Rondo.

The other nine players on the floor were Courtney Lee, Phil Pressey, Jared Sullinger, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kelly Olynyk, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace and Celtics assistant and former Celtics player Walter McCarty.

"We went live (in practice), but we didn't go all the way live," Sullinger said. "He asked a couple guys to play pick up with him. And I volunteered right then and there. One, I knew it would help my conditioning and two, it would help his confidence getting up and down the court. I was all for it."

For first-year Celtics like Wallace, the game afforded him another opportunity to better understand what it is like playing with the four-time All-star.

"It's different because he likes to pass," Wallace said. "He'll throw the pass in difficult situations. That's one of the things playing with him, you have to get used to. He's always gonna pass the ball. If you're open, even if he thinks you're open, he's gonna throw the ball."

For Sullinger, Rondo doesn't look all that different than when the two played together last season.

But having had a long lay-off before returning to action, Sullinger can relate to the challenges Rondo will face when he resumes playing which could happen as early as next month.

I'm bias. I think he looks great," said Sullinger who was limited to 45 games as a rookie last year because of season-ending back surgery. "Just glad to see him back out there with all the tough times he's had with the knee surgery and just trying to fight back with the rehab. It's good to see him out there."

And while Rondo isn't close to being the explosive, dynamic playmaker we've seen in the past, it's clear that he's getting progressively better.

No sign speaks more to his physical improvement than the sight of him getting knocked to the ground multiple times on Friday - and getting up each and every time.

"Once you're on the court, you're fair game," Sullinger said. "I don't care who you are or how hurt you are, you're fair game. It's good that he experienced those bumps, fell to the floor, did a couple crossovers, just to feel his knee out and break that mental (hurdle) ... that you fall you can get back up. It's real helpful for him."

And while his teammates would love for him to return to playing at the same level he did prior to the injury, they understand that it may take some time.

They will wait patiently for his return, knowing his return will only make them a better team.

"He's a gamer," Sullinger said. "When the game's on the line, I like my chances with Rondo out there."