By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON As the media stepped on to the Boston Celtics' practice floor this morning, there was Rajon Rondo with the ball in hand, taking shots.
As the media moved in closer, the 6-foot-1 guard made an early exit to the trainer's room before any questions could be asked.
The fact that he was on the floor was one of the many indicators that the dislocated left elbow injury he suffered in the third quarter of Boston's 97-81 Game 3 win would not prevent him from playing tonight.
Moments ago, Celtics coach Doc Rivers confirmed that Rondo would in fact start in tonight's pivotal Game 4 matchup with the Heat.
"He's going to play, so we're good," Rivers said.
To the shock of many, Rondo returned to the floor in the Game 3 victory to give the C's their first win in the best-of-seven series that now stands at 2-1 in favor of the Heat.
Rondo had an MRI performed on Sunday, and team officials said the results were negative.
Because of that, the C's outlook heading into tonight's game is a bit more positive than it would have been if tonight's game featured a Rondo-less Celtics team.
"He's ready to go," said Boston guard Carlos Arroyo, who is on the active roster tonight. "He's a warrior. He demonstrated that last game. We were all surprised the fact that he came back after that injury. I know he's ready. He wants to play. He wants to win."
Rondo has been among the more reliable Celtics in recent years.
He is one of just three Celtics (Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are the others) to appear in all 71 of the C's postseason games over the last four seasons.
However, Boston has proven that even a Rondo-less Celtics team can be successful.
In his five seasons with the C's, Boston has a 17-9 record (65.4 percent) in regular season games that Rondo has missed. That's actually slightly better than the 241-143 record (62.8 percent) Boston has in games in which he played.
Still, there's no disputing that the Celtics are a better team with Rondo than without him.
If Rondo is limited, look for Delonte West (he's nursing a sore left shoulder injury) to see more minutes with Arroyo likely moving into the backup spot behind him. West has scored in double figures in each of the three playoff games against Miami.
"I'm always ready for the challenge," said Arroyo, who began this season as the starting point guard for the Miami Heat. "And obviously, playing my old team would be even more motivation for me."