ATLANTA -- The NBA suspended Celtics' point guard Rajon Rondo for Game 2 of their series with the Hawks after he bumped referee Marc Davis late in Game 1 on Sunday night. Rondo said after the game that the bump wasn't intentional, but the league didn't see it that way. A one-game suspension for making contact with an official is automatic under NBA rules, provided the contact was intentional.
"Obviously from a competitive standpoint, we are disappointed with the league's decision to suspend Rondo," Doc Rivers said in a statement issued by the team. "He plays a valuable part in our team's success. We accept the punishment and will use it as a tool for our players."
The Celtics seemed resigned to that fate when they practiced on Monday at Georgia Tech.
"They ran into each other. There’s no doubt about it," Rivers said before practice. "I thought it was a bump and the league is going to do what they have to do. I still don’t think it was ever intentional. You get heated and I thought he was more upset with the missed call on the play before on the out of bounds play. I think that started it.
"We’ve got to control our emotions," Rivers continued. "We talked about that two days ago as a team. I rarely have those types of meetings, and I did. Now I’m wishing I hadn’t. Maybe if I hadn’t talked bout it, nothing would have happened. It is what it is and we’ll be ready for whichever way it goes."
Without Rondo, the Celtics will likely slot Avery Bradley into the point guard spot and start Mickael Pietrus at the other guard spot. Expect to see a heavy dose of Paul Pierce as a point forward.
"I really don’t go into a game saying this is what I got to do more," Pierce said. "I told you all many times. I play within the flow of the game, try to give it what it needs, regardless of who’s out there. They needed more scoring from me last night. If Rondo’s not there then not only am I going to have to step up, but a number of guys are going to have to step up."
As for Rondo, this is his second suspension for improper conduct with officials. He lost two games in February after he threw a ball at referee Sean Wright.
"We’re a volatile team. Rondo’s an emotional player," Rivers said. "The old saying, I’d rather kindle a fire then start one. I like his fire and sometimes he burns you. I like the fire that he has. Why was he involved? Because he was into the game. He’s a fighter for his team. You don’t want him to go that far, obviously. That’s just who he is. That’s also what makes him great. It’s a fine line and every once in a while he crosses it."
For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics