Does the NBA need to take a lesson from MLB? (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)



There was a different feel to this Kevin Garnett homecoming than the first. No longer paired with Paul Pierce on the Nets, he received a standing ovation from Celtics fans and a smattering of “KG” chants during Brooklyn’s pregame announcements in the Garden, but nothing like the catharsis in January.

Still, the love is there, as it always will be in Boston, and the feeling is mutual.

“It’€™s always special to come back to Beantown,” Garnett said after a 121-105 loss. “Hearing the little things, it’€™s very hard to focus. I had to go to yoga this morning, ooh-sah, get my meditation right, stay level. A lot of energy in the building. It’€™s always great to come back here. I love Beantown. I’€™m always bleeding green. Y’€™all know what it is.”

Garnett finished with 10 points, six rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes, but old friend Rajon Rondo who won the night, amassing 13 points, 12 assists and seven boards in 30 minutes. “Rondo was classic,” added Garnett. “I don’€™t know what he said he was at — 89, 83 percent? That was a hell of an 83 percent.”

Rondo returned the favor. “It was special again going against KG,” he said. “He’€™s like my big brother. He hit me a couple times on the pick, but he didn’€™t hit me as hard as he was hitting Avery [Bradley]. He nails guys on the pick, and I’€™m used to him nailing guys for me. It’s always great to play against the guy, especially since it’s his 20th year.”

Garnett begrudgingly paid respect to another old friend he would’ve rather not seen: Gino. So often staring at the Jumbotron, disco dancing in Celtics sweats at the end of blowout wins from 2007-13, KG retreated to Brooklyn’s huddle and didn’t even glimpse at the long-haired man who brought him so much joy.

“Listen, I was so upset. I didn’€™t even get to really, really get Gino in my system. My low moment for the night, you know what I mean? Gino is a big part of me, and I didn’€™t even get to celebrate it, but I’€™m still a huge Gino fan.”

KG didn’t just reserve praise for Rondo and Gino. The newest C’s stars also earned his respect.

“Their schemes were very clever,” he said. “They do unorthodox things, such as putting a big in the corner and having a big roll. That’s a lot of pressure on the smalls. My hat goes off to coach [Brad] Steven and his schemes. They played well. They shot the ball really well tonight.”

And of Marcus Smart, the rookie whose defensive intensity brings back recent Celtics memories, KG added, “The kid’s very impressive. This is my first time seeing him live, playing against him and stuff. He and Rondo and Avery, that’s going to be a tandem. I can’t wait to watch some of the games. They played great tonight. They seem to have a nice chemistry together. Hopefully they can be consistent with that.”

Yup, everything felt different in KG’s second return. Basketball in Boston has moved on.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Rajon Rondo's contract year has commenced. (Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

This is Rajon Rondo’s team, and this is his time.

The Celtics hosted the Nets on an opening night where it seemed nothing could go wrong for the home team at TD Garden.

The Celtics hosted the Nets on an Opening  Night where it seemed nothing could go wrong for the home team at TD Garden.

First it was the C’s taking a 26-point lead into halftime, then the Celtics dropped 101 points by end of the third quarter thanks to a Kelly Olynyk buzzer-beater.

In the end, the Celtics played extremely well as a whole, winning, 121-105, while shooting an insane 55.7 percent for the game. (€Click to see box score.) And it was Rajon Rondo who gave them the shot in the arm that they really needed.

Rondo dazzled in his return

Rondo returned to action just shy of five weeks after having surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand and was better than ever. Wearing protective padding over his injured hand, Rondo posted a near triple-double in his first game action since April, finishing with 13 points (6-for-9 FGs), 12 assists and seven rebounds in just under 30 minutes of action.

Brad Stevens said prior to the game that there is no minute restriction on his star point guard, but that he will open up the season playing in these types of short stints followed by even shorter rests.

Marcus Smart was solid in his first regular season game

Marcus Smart made his NBA debut. Smart got his first basket as a pro by stealing an inbounds pass and taking it all the way to the rim for an easy dunk.

Smart finished the game with 10 points on 3-for-7 shooting, but was even better on the defensive side of the ball where he collected four steals to go along with his typical lockdown defense. Fellow rookie James Young received a DNP in his first game.

Eight Celtics scored in double-figures

The Celtics’€™ victory was a complete team effort on all fronts and the scoring distribution showed it. Olynyk led eight C’€™s in double-figures with 19 points, followed by Jeff Green (17), Avery Bradley (15), Rondo and Jared Sullinger (13 each) and Smart, Evan Turner and Marcus Thornton (10 a piece). On top of that, the only other two Celtics that played, Brandon Bass and Tyler Zeller, had eight and six points respectively.

The fans showed much love for Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett returned to the Garden to play in his second game in Boston since departing to Brooklyn in a trade. Garnett received a loud round of applause followed by plenty of chanting and cheering when he was announced in the starting lineups. It wasn’€™t quite as heartfelt as when he and Paul Pierce returned together with the Nets last January, but it’€™s clear that Boston still loves them some KG.

The Celtics now have a couple days of practice before a road trip takes them to Texas to play the Rockets on Saturday and the Mavericks on Monday.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

He’€™s been giving us updates on himself all week, from 79 percent on Monday to 83 percent on Tuesday, but now Brad Stevens has made it official.

He’€™s been giving us updates on himself all week, from 79 percent on Monday to 83 percent on Tuesday, but now Brad Stevens has made it official. Rajon Rondo will play in the Celtics‘€™ first game of the season on Wednesday night just 33 days after surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand.

Stevens was straight to the point when asked if Rondo would play and if he would start, simply responding, ‘€œyes’€ to both questions.

Then Stevens was asked if Rondo would have a minutes restriction: ‘€œNo,’€ said the coach. ‘€œThe way that I’€™ve looked at it is that I might play him in shorter stints, but no minute restrictions. And then, you know, it will be about how he plays after that, it really is his first preseason game as well for him.’€

Stevens also went on to say that Rondo will receive shorter rest than he did last year in between his playing stints.

Rondo’€™s presence means that rookie Marcus Smart will be demoted to coming off the bench. Meanwhile, Rondo will start alongside Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow
Its time to start the season for the Celtics! We talk about the things we like about the Celtics and the things we dont like very much. Plus Sam feels like a jerk for laughing at Julius Randle.

I think we can all agree the Celtics won’€™t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon RondoAvery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’€™s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’€™s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’€™s pieces in a series we’€™ll call Asset Management. Next up: Rajon Rondo.

There’s no point arguing about whether Rajon Rondo is a great player any longer. He’s capable of things on a basketball court previously reserved only for Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson, and that’s all I’ll ever need to know.

We haven’t seen Rondo at full strength since Jan. 25, 2013, when he dropped a 16-10-11 triple-double and played the final 12 minutes of a double-overtime loss to the Hawks on a torn ACL. How anyone hates on him is beyond me.

Playing at 87 percent health or whatever weird number he assigned to his rehabbed right knee last season, Rondo still averaged 11.7 points, 9.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 33.3 minutes over 30 games. You know who else achieved those averages in 2013-14? Nobody. Not Kevin Durant. Not LeBron James. Not Stephen Curry. Not Chris Paul. Nobody.

Rondo is one of the most extraordinary players in the NBA, if not the league’s strangest bird, and it’s good to have him back. The broken metatarsal in his left hand will prevent Rondo from reaching 100 percent for a week or two, but he’ll be collecting triple-doubles before we know it, ascending everbody’s player rankings all year.

Like it or not, he’ll also be the biggest name on the trade market as the NBA’s highest-profile free agent in 2015 (assuming LeBron and Kevin Love are staying in Cleveland.) There’s simply no way to escape the trade rumors. It makes too much sense for a Celtics team that just drafted its point guard of the future and remains years away from contending to shop a four-time All-Star banking on a big payday come July.

The problem is finding a trade partner. Two-thirds of the league has a point guard in place for the foreseeable future, half of the remaining teams wouldn’t sign him long-term and the other half doesn’t have the assets to meet Danny Ainge’s considerable demands. All that probably adds up to Rondo remaining in green this season. Unless, of course, the Pacers give up Roy Hibbert or the Heat, Kings, Knicks or Lakers  come up with a more enticing package than draft picks and Mario Chalmers, Ben McLemore, Iman Shumpert or the now injured Julius Randle.

The problem comes next summer when Rondo becomes a free agent, and the Knicks, Lakers and Mavericks all have cap space to pursue his services. The Celtics can still offer the most money, but do they want to? And does Rondo want to stay in Boston for a rebuilding project still in its infancy? (A Dallas starting lineup of Rondo, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler is an instant title contender.)

If Rondo returns to form and commands anything close to max money on the open market, then maybe it’s best to re-sign him, keep a valuable asset in the holster and consider trading him down the line. (Great, more trade rumors.) These are questions Ainge must answer before considering lesser offers at the trade deadline.

It’s a circular argument, and we’ll be driving around that roundabout all winter. Buckle your seatbelt. It’s gonna be a weird, wild ride, and at least Rondo is at the wheel this year. Let’s get this Celtics season started.

Asset Rating: A

This has been another edition of Asset Management. Check out more Celtics player valuations below.

ASSET MANAGEMENT: Brandon Bass | Avery Bradley | Vitor Faverani | Jeff Green | Kelly Olynyk | Dwight PowellPhil Pressey | Marcus Smart | Rajon RondoJared Sullinger | Marcus Thornton | Evan Turner | Gerald Wallace | James Young | Tyler Zeller

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

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