Thomsen: Rondo was holding Celtics back


Thomsen: Rondo was holding Celtics back

You already know how bad the Celtics were playing before Rajon Rondo was lost for the season with an ACL tear.

And you already know how good the Celtics have played since that injury.

Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen joins Damon Amendolara to talk about the C's before and after Rondo, and even goes as far as saying that Rondo was "holding them back" out there on the court.

What does that mean for his trade value, or chances of getting traded by the C's now?

Thomsen discusses that and much more on the Rondo front.

Celtics-Bulls preview: Gerald Green's shooting changing series' complexion

Celtics-Bulls preview: Gerald Green's shooting changing series' complexion

BOSTON – After dropping the first two games in this first round best-of-seven playoff series with Chicago, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens knew he had to make a change. 

He looked up and down his bench before eventually settling on Gerald Green whose presence has been pivotal to Boston’s resurgence in this series which is now tied at two games apiece after the Celtics opened with two losses at home. 

Green’s emergence as a key cog in Boston’s recent stretch of success plays into the narrative about this bench being full of players who, when given an opportunity to play, step up.

It is a trend they hope to continue tonight in Game 5 when the Celtics look to take their first lead in their series against the Bulls. Figuring out who to inject in the starting lineup, much like it has been to figure who should be in the rotation, has not been easy for Stevens. 

“That’s one of the challenges with our team,” Stevens said. “There was a lot of similar ability to impact the game, specifically off the bench.”

Injuries, illnesses and inconsistent play forced the Celtics to juggle its preferred starting five – Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson and Al Horford – most of this season. 

And as the Celtics evaluated what did not work in Games 1 and 2, both losses, they realized in this series they needed to insert at least one more shooter to help better space the floor. 

So the decision to go with Green was an easy one for Stevens even if it caught many by surprise. 

In his two games as a starter, Green has averaged 13.0 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 50 percent (6-for-12) from 3-point range. 

Just as telling was the fact that Boston had a plus/minus of +9 when the 31-year-old Green was on the floor. 

Not bad for a guy who spent most of the season near the end of the Celtics bench.

"He gives us more space, especially myself," Thomas said. "You have to respect him. Even if he's not making shots, you have to respect his shooting ability. That's only going to help us."

Said Stevens: “There were times when Gerald Green didn’t play much all year and there were times when we really leaned on him to help us win. Same with Terry (Rozier); same with Jaylen (Brown), on down the line.”

It speaks to the level of trust Stevens has in his players whose collective talents, more than their individual skills, were critical to Boston (53-29) finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference this season and with it home court advantage for as long as they are in the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

But home court has been no advantage for either team with the road team winning each of the first four games. 

“Wherever you play, you have to play well,” Stevens said.

Part of that improved play Stevens is looking for in Game 5 will center around the Celtics doing a better job defending without fouling. 

In Game 4, Bulls all-star Jimmy Butler took 23 free throws which was the third-most ever by a Celtics opponent in a playoff game. 

All those trips to the line forced Stevens to do a little perimeter defender juggling with his lineup. 

“I usually don’t overreact to fouls,” Stevens said. “But Avery (Bradley) got his third (personal foul) in the first (half) and how important it was going to be for him to defend (down the stretch), that was important. And when Isaiah got his fourth (personal foul in the third quarter). We do the best job we can containing those guys without fouling.”

They'll need to if they are to take their first lead in this series with a win tonight.

“We know it’s a big game for us," Thomas said. "We’ll be ready.”

Report: Rajon Rondo preparing to attempt to play in Game 5

Report: Rajon Rondo preparing to attempt to play in Game 5

Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo is putting in the work in an attempt to play in Game 5 Wednesday, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania.

Rondo, who fractured his right thumb and wore a forearm cast during Game 4, was spotted at practice Tuesday dribbling and shooting in a much smaller thumb splint. There's a chance he'll play against his former team in the Boston Celtics. Here's what The Vertical wrote on Rondo.

Around Rondo and the Bulls, there’s belief that the four-time All-Star has a chance to return but a final determination has not been made, league sources said.

The guard originally received a two-week timetable from doctors on April 21. However, he has a history of making improbable returns from injuries. In 2011, he played through a dislocated elbow. In 2013, he played a few minutes after tearing his ACL.

The 31-year-old point guard averaged 7.8 points, 6.7 assists and 5.1 rebounds in 69 games this season. In two games this postseason, he has averaged 11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 10 assists and has shot 42.3 percent from the field.

And the Bulls, who are tied with the Celtics 2-2 in the series after jumping out to a 2-0 lead, are desperate for his return. They've cycled players like Michael Carter-William, Jerian Grant and Isaiah Canaan in and out of Rondo's role in the Bulls starting lineup.