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Sat, 05/07/2011 - 11:28pm  

O'Neal: Know Rondo will play next game

Talking after the Celtics' 97-81 win over the Heat in Game 3 of the teams' Eastern Conference semifinal matchup, Celts' center Jermaine O'Neal said that he fully expects Rajon Rondo to play in Game 4 Monday despite the point guard's dislocated left elbow.

"It was tough. He's going to do whatever he needs to do," O'Neal said of Rondo. "I'm sure you guys can see he's going to play next game already. If there is any doubt out there by anybody you should just look at this game because if he came back for this game you know he's going to play the next game. He's one of the tougher point guards in this league. He wants it. That's the first thing I asked him when he came out here, I said, 'You sure you want to be out here?' He said, 'Look, we don't have any games to give.' That's Rondo."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said regarding Rondo's availability going forward, "Honestly, moving forward, it's, we'll have to see. It's going to be interesting, I'll put it that way."

Delonte West, who came in to replace Rondo at point guard after Rondo landed awkwardly on the left arm with 7:02 left in the third quarter, thought the injury could have been worse.

"Honestly, when I saw it, I thought he broke his elbow," West said. "Close up, it looked as though the bone came out. I'm just excited it wasn't broken."

The return of Rondo solidified O'Neal's already high opinion of the guard.

"The first thing I noticed was his toughness when I got here. His maturity, and his leadership," the center said. "I don't even know what the injury is, but most guys would have just gotten ready for Game 4. He's a guy who is very impressive in the way he controls our team. All I heard was he was a very quiet guy, but it's been the total opposite. When I got here he was very vocal in the locker room, very vocal on the court. He has a strong opinion about what this team and players should be doing. To see him come back gave us that energy. We had a couple of things that really gave us that boost when Miami was making that run, and him coming out of our locker room after we thought he was gone for game, it was like, OK, we have to kick it into the next gear."

For more Celtics coverage, see the team page at weei.com/celtics.




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