Boston Celtics

Rondo shows improvement in shooting, agressiveness in win

619562.jpg

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.

Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

cp-isaiah-thomas-gordon-hayward.jpg

Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

Gordon Hayward wanted to go to Boston to play with Isaiah Thomas.

Of course, that's not going to happen. The Celtics traded Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a package for Kyrie Irving. Hayward explained what it was like for him to learn he and Thomas would not get the chance to hit the court together in Celtics' green.

MORE CELTICS:

"My first reaction was to text I.T., and wish him the best," Hayward wrote in a blog post which he published Thursday. "That was a really strange moment because I’d really been looking forward to playing with him. He didn’t just help recruit me to Boston—he was a big piece of that recruitment. He had talked a lot about city and how it was different to be a Celtic. He talked about the intensity of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, playing at the Garden in the playoffs, and how much fun it was, and how much fun he had playing in Boston.

"All of that ultimately helped win me over. And by the time of the trade, I had already started to build a little bit of a relationship with him.

"But that is just how the business works. I have spent enough years in the NBA to realize that things can change like that, in an instant. Still, even though we didn’t necessarily get to be teammates, I’m definitely going to be watching him as a fan. In this league, I think we are all rooting for each other in some way or another—just to try to stay healthy, to try to be the best we can be."

Hayward may be genuine about rooting for Thomas -- except perhaps when he faces off against the Cavaliers in the season-opener on Oct. 17 at Quicken Loans Arena. Thomas is uncertain to play due to a hip injury. But the two teams are expected to see each other in the Eastern Conference Finals again after the 2017-18 season. This preview will be an opportunity for Thomas and Irving to get their first shot at revenge against their previous team.

The trade wasn't all bad for Hayward, he explained. He was pleased at the prospect of playing with Irving. Hayward cited Irving's abilities in 1-on-1 situations and clutch moments. He appreciated Irving's scoring ability, because Hayward knows the point guard will open up space for Hayward to knock down open shots. Above all, Hayward seemed to value Irving's unique experience.

"And then getting a chance to play with LeBron James, and going to the Finals three straight years—those are experiences that are invaluable and that you really can’t teach," Hayward wrote. "Having that experience of playing in those big moments, dealing with the circus of the media, dealing with expectations, those are all things that I think he can help us with. Because most of us, myself especially, have never been through that."

CSNNE SCHEDULE