Celtics forced to look for options in wake of Rondo's injury

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Celtics forced to look for options in wake of Rondo's injury

BOSTON The Boston Celtics locker room was a joyful place in the moments following Sunday's 100-98 double overtime win over Miami.

And then, Doc Rivers broke the news of the night to them.

Rajon Rondo had a torn ACL injury and was going to be out for the rest of the season.

The loss of Rondo has ramifications on so many levels, for so many individuals.

No Rondo means the Celtics will be sifting through the free agent and D-League waters to see if there's a point guard they can bring in to add some depth to the backcourt.

Although it's too soon to tell what level of interest there is now, the Celtics are likely to look into adding former Celtic Delonte West.

A league source told CSNNE.com earlier this season that the only way the C's would even consider bringing West back for a third stint in Boston, would be if one of the guards currently on the roster suffered a long-term injury.

Beyond West, the pickings are pretty slim when it comes to point guards via free agency.

Boston might tap into the D-League and look to call up Andre Barrett who leads the D-League in assists with 11.2 per game. And unlike a number of D-League playmakers looking for that next big break, Barrett does have NBA experience with six different teams and currently plays for the Celtics' D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers wouldn't touch the subject, with the knowledge of Rondo being lost for the season still too fresh.

"I was just trying to think straight during the game," said Rivers, who did not find out about Rondo not playing until about 24 minutes prior to the game starting.

"Rondo was still in the starting lineup and Dr. (Brian) McKeon grabbed me and said, 'He's out.' And I said, 'he went through our walk-through.' And then he said, 'No, he's out.' And so, I was trying to go in the locker room and talk about the game with that, thinking about that thought."

Within moments of Rivers breaking the news to his players, a wide range of emotions swept through the Celtics locker room, with shock and disappointment being the two most prominent.

Rivers had an idea shortly before tip-off that Rondo's injury might keep him out for the season, but wouldn't let on to his players or even Rondo who had an MRI performed and returned to the TD Garden by halftime.

"I couldn't tell him because I wasn't positive," Rivers said.

Not surprisingly, the locker room was unusually subdued after such a huge win, and with good reason.

The Celtics won the game and moments later found out that they were losing arguably their best player for the rest of the season.

Losing Rondo has to put the C's season in a completely different context now. With him, they were a team struggling but one that many felt would get better and be a potential thorn in some team's side come playoff time with Rondo leading the charge.

Now?

The road to being one of the last teams standing just got tougher - a lot tougher.

Even with the knowledge that Rondo won't be on the floor anytime soon, the Celtics still talk a confident game.

"We still like our chances in the Eastern Conference," Pierce said. "We found we can play with anybody with the team we put out there. Even without Rondo."

But can the C's compete with the elite teams without Rondo?

Teams like ... the Heat.

"He (Rondo) makes most of the triggers for this team," said Miami's Dwyane Wade. "He pretty much does it all ... you see a triple-double in the making, in the sense so he's gonna be missed. But it's the NBA and guys are gonna step up and get their opportunity. They'll learn how to play without what he brings to the game, and other guys can bring."

His absence puts greater pressure on Boston's guards to step up and make an impact beyond the roles they have had which focus primarily on playing off of Rondo.

"Whatever Doc (Rivers) wants me to play, that's what I'm going to do," said Boston's Avery Bradley who will likely see more time playing the point now. "I'm going to go out there and give it my all. No matter if its' the 2 (shooting guard) or the 1 (point guard), I'm going to go out there and play as hard as I can."

And that effort from Bradley and the rest of the C's is all Rivers has to hear in order for his belief in this team to be remain as strong now as it was prior to Rondo's injury.

"Obviously that's a blow; it's a huge blow for us," Rivers said about losing Rondo for the season. "When something like this happens, someone will find someone that's already in our locker room that's going to play terrific. And I have no idea who it is."

When you consider how the Celtics struggled with Rondo, the idea of not having him will surely bring about even more pessimism in regards to Boston's chances to be successful moving forward.

"Well you can write the obituary. I'm not," Rivers said. "You can go ahead. But I'm not. We won tonight, and so that way I look at it is, we're going to stay in there. In my opinion, we're going nowhere."

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Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”