Rivers on Rondo: 'He's going to play'

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Rivers on Rondo: 'He's going to play'

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

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."

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

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.