Rivers urges Rondo to get to the free-throw line

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Rivers urges Rondo to get to the free-throw line

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

SACRAMENTO, Calif. Throughout his time as the Boston Celtics head coach, Doc Rivers has looked for different ways to challenge his precocious point guard, Rajon Rondo.

Become a better shooter. Make better decisions. Be more of a leader.

Rondo has shown progress in all those areas.

It remains to be seen if the same will hold true now that Rivers has added increased free-throw attempts to goals he has for Rondo.

Still, there's no doubt that for the C's to continue to improve, Rondo getting to the line more can only help.

"It's night and day. When he's attacking and making things happen, and playing at a high level he's used to playing at, the sky's the limit for this team," said Kendrick Perkins.

And adding free throws to his already impressive repertoire of offensive skills only makes him and the C's better moving forward.

On Tuesday, Rondo was indeed in attack mode from the opening tip.

A 51.2 percent free-throw shooter this season, Rondo made all three of his attempts against the Kings and has nailed eight of his last nine over the course of three games.

"We're staying on him; I'm trying to get him to get to the free-throw line as much as possible," Rivers said. "Just keep driving, keep attacking."

Rivers has challenged him to get 10 free-throw attempts per game.

While he knows that is highly unlikely to happen, that's not the point.

Rondo getting to the free-throw line more (he only has 67 attempts, which ranks sixth on the team) not only gives him more opportunities to score, but it also means opponents will see a set defense more often.

And as the Celtics get deeper into this season, they will need to continue to improve, Rondo included.

"The second half of the year, that's really important for him; just see how many times he can get to the free-throw line," Rivers said. "It'll be great for his confidence, great for our team's confidence. And we known when the playoffs start, that's going to be something that he'll have to do."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Isaiah Thomas still unsure whether hip will require surgery

Isaiah Thomas still unsure whether hip will require surgery

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Isaiah Thomas said it will be at least another month before he and the Boston Celtics will know for sure if he’ll need surgery on his right hip or an alternative means of treatment.

“Take it day by day and whatever happens in the next four to six weeks, then go from there and attack that as is,” Thomas said on Friday.

Thomas took a hard spill on his right hip against Minnesota on March 15, and re-aggravated the injury during Boston’s second-round series against Washington. The Celtics’ medical staff treated the injury for several weeks, but the pain began to increase and the potential risk of it becoming a long-term problem only grew.

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In the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss to Cleveland in the conference finals, the hip began to severely limit his play which was evident by him scoring two points in the first half of that game while missing all six of his shots from the field.

The Celtics medical team examined him at halftime and determined that in the best interest of his long-term health, he had to be shut down for the rest of the playoffs.

Needless to say, that did not go over well with Thomas.

“They had multiple people come in and talk to me about what’s more important,” Thomas recalled. “I definitely wasn’t trying to hear that at that point in time.”

Not only because of his competitive nature, but also because the Celtics were in the Conference finals for the first time since 2012.

“Conference finals, that’s the biggest stage I’ve ever been on,” Thomas said. “To not be able to go back out there in the second half … was painful; it hurt me.”

Now Thomas finds himself having to be patient and allow his body to heal up, realizing the big picture – his future – has to take precedence over what he’s accustomed to this time of year which is to take a couple weeks off and get right back in the gym to start working on his game and prepping for next season.

Not only is this a big summer in terms of him getting his body right, but he’s also eligible for a contract extension.

When asked about an extension, Thomas quipped, “That means more money? I’d love that.”

He added, “if it don’t happen, I'm the last person to be bothered by that. I know everything happens for a reason. So when my time comes, I know … God will bless me.”

The two-time all-star will earn just $6.26 million in the final year of the four-year, $27 million deal he signed in 2014 with Phoenix.

While being hurt isn’t ideal when talks center around an extension, Thomas isn’t overly concerned about his contract status and whether or not it changes this summer.

“That time will come. Whatever happens, happens,” Thomas said. “I’ve proved myself. The world knows what I bring to the table. I can’t do anything to control anything else. Whatever happens this summer with contracts, it happens. If not, we’ll wait until next summer and see where we go.”

While his contract status may be unclear, there’s no mistaking that Thomas wants to stay in Boston long-term.

“Boston has changed my career, changed my life,” said Thomas who came to Boston via trade in February of 2015. “I’d love to be here long-term and win championships here. As you guys know it’s a business; anything can happen. And I know that, I understand that. I would love to be here. This has been everything to me.”