Rondo, Williams ready to face off in guard-driven league

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Rondo, Williams ready to face off in guard-driven league

WALTHAM, Mass. Elite point guard in Boston versus Elite point guard in Brooklyn, take two.

And ... action!

A sprained ankle injury kept Rajon Rondo off the floor when the Celtics played the Deron Williams-led Brooklyn Nets earlier this month.

Now this made-for-the-hardwood matchup shifts to the TD Garden on Wednesday when the C's - that includes a healthy Rondo - host the Nets.

And while both teams will do their part to keep the focus on their respective teams and not the individual point guard matchup, players of their stature can't run or hide from the hype.

That's especially true when you see more and more teams build their rosters around point guards - something that was unheard of during Doc Rivers' days as a player.

Rivers believes the shift has more to do with rule changes than anything else.

"I don't know if I could have played in the league with these rules, or I could have been great," Rivers said.

Rules regarding what's allowed defensively have made the NBA game one in which players who have the ball in their hands the most - usually point guards - will have a significant impact on games.

"It's brought the quick guard back in the league, the small guard back in the league," Rivers said.

The emphasis placed on guard play now is especially apparent in watching teams almost exclusively call pick-and-roll plays.

"I watched a game last night where they ran the pick-and-roll every single possession from the first quarter on and they won," Rivers said. "It was unbelievable. And they won because the other team couldn't stop it."

The C's to a large degree are no different than others along those lines.

Rookie Jared Sullinger possesses the kind of skills that mesh well with Rajon Rondo. Sullinger's soft hands provide Rondo a prime target to pass to in half court sets.

Boston also re-signed Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green, two players known for their ability to run the floor well which provides Rondo two prime targets in transition.

The Nets have clearly built their roster around Williams with additions such as Joe Johnson along with re-signing Kris Humphries.

"It's funny now, when you are drafting, if you have a first-round pick, a first pick and you have a choice between a big and a guard it was a no-brainer," Rivers said. "It's still a no-brainer if the big's going to be dominant. But if not, you have to give serious thought, if you think that point guard is going to be special, you have to think point guard."

Players like Courtney Lee recognize how the game has evolved to one in which perimeter guards rule the day.

"The game became a lot quicker," Lee said. "Back in the day, you see guys with a lot of height, a lot of guards posting up, like (Golden State Warriors head coach and former New York Knicks guard) Mark Jackson; big guard bringing the ball down with his back to the basket. You got guys like Rondo, Deron Williams and Chris Paul playing with speed. The game has changed a lot."

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Raptors missing Lowry in first half

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Raptors missing Lowry in first half

TORONTO -- Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half which ended with the Boston Celtics ahead 55-45 over the Toronto Raptors.

STARS

DeMar DeRozan

Playing without Kyle Lowry (right wrist), DeRozan made the most of what, not surprisingly, were a few more shot attempts. He led all scorers with 19 first-half points on 7-for-13 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

The strong play by Thomas prior to the All-Star break, hasn't gone anywhere. He led the Celtics with 11 points in the first half on 3-for-7 shooting along with four assists.

 

STUDS

Jonas Valanciunas

Boston had problems throughout the first half keeping him off the boards as he tallied five points and a game-high six rebounds.

Jaylen Brown

The rookie showed a heightened level of maturity at both ends of the floor, scoring 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting.

 

DUDS

Corey Joseph

We all know he's not Kyle Lowry, but he has to do a better job of filling in for the All-Star than what we saw in the first half if the Raptors are to have any shot at rallying tonight. He was scoreless in 17 minutes, missing all three of his shots from the field.