Rondo

Clearly nervous to start the broadcast, as evidenced by his forced smile finding the camera in the pregame, Celtics captain Rajon Rondo settled into his role as color analyst, offering some fascinating insight with a little help from consummate play-by-play man Mike Gorman. Here’s the best of Rondo’s TV debut.

RONDO ON THE CELTICS

On himself: “I’€™m almost at 100 [percent]. I’m feeling great. Each game, I’m getting stronger, my endurance is getting better. I feel strong. Each game, I’m trying to continue to get better. Offensively and defensively, just continue to try and look explosive. It’s definitely hard to be away from the game that you love. You take it for granted sometimes, but it was definitely a humbling experience. I’m glad I went through it. [I learned] patience. I’m very antsy. I love to do things on my own and when I want to get it done, but the patience is very key as far as being able to sit down.”

On Kris Humphries: “I didn’t know Kris was as good a shooter as he is. Kris definitely can hit a mid-range shot, and that’s why we play together. We have great chemistry. He’s definitely very professional. He wasn’t playing a lot at the beginning of the season, but he stayed in the gym, stayed working, and looking at him now — the starting center for the Boston Celtics.”

On Sullinger: “I’m very impressed. Coming off knee surgery is definitely different, obviously speaking from experience, but coming off back surgery with his size it’s definitely tough to … play the way he’s been playing. Our bigs don’t get enough credit. They’ve done a great job, especially in our pick-and-roll defense and the way they shoot the ball.”

On Phil Pressey: “To be in his situation — he’s a rookie not knowing when he’s going to play, when he’s going to start, when he’s going to get minutes — he’s been terrific. He’s very professional. He’s been in the gym working extremely hard. I’€™d like to see him [drive] more. He’€™s a pass-first point guard like myself, but he’s so quick, he can get in there, throw a couple floaters, a couple layups to create shots for himself as well.”

On Chris Johnson: From Day 1, since he’s come in, he’s been a pro. He’€™s a very confident player. When he started a couple days ago, we were playing the Toronto Raptors, and [DeMar] DeRozan had it going. I said, ‘You want me to check him?’ And he said, ‘No way.’ You need guys like that — that want the pressure, that want to compete out there on the floor with you every night — and he’s definitely one of those guys. He feels like he belongs, and he’s definitely belonging right now.”

On Brandon Bass: “He’s a very athletic guy. He’s the most athletic guy on the team besides Jeff [Green].”

On Jeff Green: He’s the best athlete on the team “by far. The things he can do are amazing.”

RONDO ON THE BULLS

On Joakim Noah: ‘€”He pretty much fills up the stat sheet. He reminds me a little bit of myself. He plays hard on both ends of the floor. What I like about Joakim most is that he competes on every play. … He’€™s a guy you want on your team. He does everything on the court.’”

More on Noah: “I think this is 10 years for Noah and I that we’ve played against each other. We played each other in AAU and obviously in college, so Noah and I have been battling for a long time. A very long time. About two years ago, we came to an understanding, because we were always going at each other, and we didn’t never really understand why, but I think it’s because we both love to compete. He’s a guy who’s going to bring it every night, and I do the same, but we don’t play the same position, so one game we were at the free throw line and just thought about why we even go at each other. We kind of squashed it. No beef. No big deal. He’s fun to compete against.”

On Mike Dunleavy: “Gotta keep him going left. Dunleavy loves to go right, and coach [Tom] Thibodeau does a great job drawing up plays letting him go to his right hand.”

On Jimmy Butler: “Definitely a player you want on your team. He doesn’t get a lot of plays called for him, but he still makes plays on both ends of the floor.”

On Kirk Hinrich: “I love playing against Hinrich. He competes. I love playing against guys that compete. Every night he’s going to bring it no matter his matchup or his size. I remember one year in the playoffs, he checked myself, Ray [Allen] and Paul [Pierce] in one game, so whatever defense the coach asks of him, he’s pretty much going to do it.”

Of course, Rondo literally checked Hinrich into the scorer’s table during the 2009 playoffs.

More on Hinrich: “He’s definitely a physical guard. He’s one of the most physical guards we have in our game. He’s stronger than he looks. He plays hard.”

RONDO ON THE GAME

€œOn the first quarter: “You’ve got to fight over the screens a little bit more. They’€™re setting the tempo. I’€™d like to see the Celtics get aggressive, because they’ve set the tone so far. Any Thibodeau team [is physical]. In the past, when he was with us, we were pretty high up, but this team in particular — Noah’s intensity, the way Hinrich plays the ball, the way Jimmy Butler plays the ball — they’ve got to be 1 or 2 on top of the league.”

On defending D.J. Augustin: “Give Pressey credit. He’s been pressuring the ball, staying close to his body. That’€™s what the Celtics couldn’€™t do last night.”

RONDO ODDS AND ENDS

On captaincy: “Being the older guy on the team or one of the oldest guys on the team, I have to be more vocal. The last couple years I’ve been able to stay behind KG [Kevin Garnett] or Paul, listen to those guys talk, but now this year my role has gotten bigger like it has each year, as I’ve been in the league eight years, so just try to continue to talk and also lead by example. Try to get out there, be the first one on the floor, stay in the weight room, continue to get better and encourage my teammates to do the same.”

On lessons from Garnett and Pierce: “Every night. You can’t pick and choose when you want to be a captain or a leader. If you want to be it, you’ve got to be it every day.”

On 2006-07 vs. 2013-14: “Try to continue to go one game at a time, keep your best foot forward, stay positive, stay in the gym, don’t get discouraged. Things aren’t always going to go as great as they were in college. This is the league, so it’s definitely an adjustment. You can’t win every game, but for the most part, continue to stay professional and continue to go to work.”

On 2009 series vs. Derrick Rose: “I love those memories. Great series, great battle going against one of the best point guards in the game, so we had fun going at it. Luckily, we came out with the victory 4-3. It was a tough battle. Doc [Rivers] played me around 47 or 48 minutes a game. We had a couple overtime games that series, and I was able to play the entire game. Obviously, being young helps. I definitely hate to come out. It’s part of the game, but if I could play every minute I would.”

On learning Brad Stevens: “Obviously, the coaching change is different, playing for one guy for seven years and chaining to a brand new guy, so I got to sit back during this injury and watch him from afar.”

On up-tempo vs. half-court offense: “Up-tempo. Up-tempo. Those are the funnest games to play. Teams like the Knicks, the Suns, the Denver Nuggets, the run-and-gun, the shootouts, those are games you want to be involved in, but a game like this isn’t bad. That’s what these games come down to at the end of the day in the playoffs. You have to be able to get stops and score and execute in the half-court offense.”

On playing point guard: “Basically, whenever the guy’€™s open, just try to hit him. And if not, try to get guys in the right spots offensively, so we can execute. For the most part, a lot of the plays do allow me to have the ball in my hands and create for my teammates.”

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Rajon Rondo made his broadcasting debut during a scheduled night of rest, and while he left the booth with his Celtics leading at the break, the Bulls put a taxed C’s team out of its misery in the fourth quarter, 94-80.

Rajon Rondo made his broadcasting debut during a scheduled night of rest, and while he left the booth with his Celtics leading at the break, the Bulls put a taxed C’s team out of its misery in the fourth quarter, 94-80.

Brandon Bass and Jerryd Bayless led the fizzling offense with 18 points apiece, but the Celtics (23-51) couldn’t avoid a fifth straight loss. Remarkable, the C’s only victory in their last 11 games came against the Heat.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Ankle trouble: The right ankle that has plagued Avery Bradley throughout the season flared up again before halftime, forcing him out of the remainder of the game. Given his vastly improved jump shooting, Bradley’s injury has constantly disrupted what should have been an impressive contract season.

Wings: Playing opposite Jeff Green, who submitted another Jeff Greeny performance, Mike Dunleavy eclipsed 20 points for the first time in weeks. While Rondo stressed the key to stopping Dunleavy was forcing him left, Dunleavy scored going right and finding open perimeter shots. Likewise, Jimmy Butler (18 points) gave the Celtics fits.

Fourth and long: It took more than four minutes for the Celtics to score their first basket of the fourth quarter. Seemingly gassed from playing the same team in two nights, the Celtics watched the Bulls rattle off 13-0 run before a Kris Humphries jumper finally stopped the bleeding with 7:50 remaining. The damage was done, however, as Chicago turned a 71-70 lead after three into a comfortable 14-point advantage down the stretch.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Bench press: Over the large majority of the second quarter, Phil Pressey and Chris Johnson brought an energy that transformed a two-possession deficit into a three-possession advantage with a few minutes to play before the half. “They got gassed,” admitted Celtics coach Brad Stevens, and the Bulls trimmed a nine-point deficit into just two by the break. In a dozen first-half minutes apiece, Pressey and Johnson combined for 11 points and four steals.

Starting bigs: Playing against the more traditional 4-5 combo of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass held their own. Each started 4-for-5 from the field and the duo combined for 19 points in the first half while holding their Bulls counterparts to 6-of-13 start. Their rebounding left much to be desired, but it’s hard to knock the effort of a couple veterans who keep battling after 50 losses.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

D.J. Augustin scored a career-high 33 points and drilled the go-ahead three with just over a minute remaining to lift the Chicago Bulls over the Celtics, 107-103. Rajon Rondo led a balanced attack for the Celtics, with 17 points and 10 assists as six Boston players scored in double figures. Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger each had 16 for the Celtics, who fell to 23-50 on the season.

In a game inspired by the memory of two Boston firefighters who perished in last week’s fire on Beacon Street, the Celtics and Chicago Bulls put on one of the most entertaining games of the season.

Before the game, the Celtics wore warmup shirts with the Boston Fire Department insignia on them. The coaches and non-uniformed staff wore the department patches on their suits.

As for the game, it featured 18 ties and 14 lead changes.

Jeff Green‘s three with 2:40 left in the fourth quarter drew the Celtics to within two, 95-93. After a free throw gave the Bulls a three-point lead, Green’s three with 2:18 left tied the game for an 18th time.

D.J. Augustin’s three with 1:19 left put the Bulls up for good, 99-96. After a Celtics turnover, Augustin added a pair of free throws with 34.8 seconds left to seal the victory for the visitors.

The two teams will meet again Monday night, this time in Chicago, as the 41-32 Bulls look to improve their playoff standing in the Eastern Conference.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Jerryd Bayless poured in 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to spearhead a furious Celtics comeback, but after Boston knotted the game at 103 in the final half-minute, a putback by Amir Johnson with seven seconds left gave the Raptors a 105-103 victory, finalized when Jared Sullinger missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Jerryd Bayless poured in 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to spearhead a furious Celtics comeback, but after Boston knotted the game, 103-103, in the final half-minute, a putback by Amir Johnson with seven seconds left gave the Raptors a 105-103 victory, finalized when Jared Sullinger missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Celtics entered the final quarter down by a dozen points, but a 28-12 run put them ahead, 101-97, with just over three minutes remaining. However, the C’s went on to make just one more bucket over the duration of the contest, with the Raptors closing with a 6-2 run that culminated in Johnson’s putback following a game-tying layup by Rajon Rondo with 29 seconds left.

Bayless led the Celtics with 20 points, Jeff Green had 16 and six members of the team finished in double digits on a night when Boston shot 53 percent from the floor. With the loss, the Celtics remained tied with the Jazz for the fourth-worst record in the NBA.

For a complete recap, click here.

Blog Author: 
WEEI
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston joins Mut, Lou, and Christian to talk about Rajon Rondo in the booth, the rest of the Celtics losing season, and the epic battle between the Pacers and Heat.

Rajon Rondo told Brad Stevens he would like to play alongside Jared Sullinger “as much as possible,” but the Celtics captain and his coach don’t appear to be on the same page on this one, considering the sophomore big — probably the team’s second-best player at this point — hasn’t started a game for more than a month.

“I like playing on the court with Sully,” Rondo said after the C’s 99-90 loss to the Raptors. “I told Brad I wanted to play with Sully as much as possible. Not a knock on any of our other bigs, but one thing that Sully does that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is he’s probably the best outlet passer we have.”

With respect to his encouragement of Sullinger’s 3-point shooting, Stevens admitted, “I’m not as much an analytics guy as everyone portrays me to be,” but the numbers support his coach’s hesitancy to pair the two more often.

The Celtics average 29.9 defensive rebounds, 23.2 assists and 98.8 points per 100 possessions while scoring 10.8 percent of their points on the fast break with Rondo and Sullinger paired on the court. To put that into perspective, the C’s average 33.3 defensive rebounds, 26.8 assists and 101.4 points per 100 possessions while scoring 18.7 percent of their points on the fast break with rookies Phil Pressey and Kelly Olynyk sharing the floor. Rondo and Sullinger are a minus-47 over 431 minutes; Pressey and Olynyk are a plus-21 over 418.

The Celtics have shot 29.4 percent on 218 3-pointers when Rondo and Sullinger are paired together. On the other hand, the C’s are shooting 35.7 percent on 196 3-pointers when Pressey and Olynyk share the floor. Statistically, those numbers correlate to the percentages from distance for both Sullinger (25.6 3P%) and Olynyk (32.6 3P%).

Against the Raptors, Sullinger’s three straight 3-pointers drew the Celtics within four points in the final minutes. He believes not taping his finger for the first time since dislocating it against the Thunder on Jan. 24 improved his feel.

“Obviously, it’s feeling a lot better,” he said after totaling 26 points and eight rebounds in defeat. “Those couple days we had off that we didn’t really practice really helped me get the mobility in the finger and also helped it heal. It’s constantly getting hit, and tonight I decided not to tape it up and felt comfortable out there.”

“I still believe in him shooting,” added Stevens. “I’ve seen him shoot. I believe in his form; I believe in how much he shoots. That doesn’t mean when he’s not making them he shouldn’t find other options and alternatives. Four for six gave us a chance to win tonight, and it’s not easy to score inside against [Jonas] Valunciunas and [Amir] Johnson with their length, so it makes sense to stretch him. They ended up not playing Valunciunas much late as a result of that I’m sure.” Of course, Valunciunas had already done his damage (15 points, 14 rebounds) by that point.

Still, Sullinger’s performance Wednesday was more of an aberration than a solution. He has only shot that well from 3 on one other occasion (4-5 vs. Cleveland on Nov. 29). Until making those three straight triples, he was 7-of-35 from beyond the arc this month. That’s 20 percent. Prior to dislocating his finger, Sullinger connected on 30-of-108 3-pointers (27.8%). Since then, he’s 15-of-68 (22.1%). Neither number is particularly encouraging.

Yet, “I believe in myself,” said Sullinger. “I don’t really care what the ‘nay-slayers’ say. Some of y’all are out here right now. I could care less. I’m just trying to expand my game, and if I’m open I’m going to shoot it.”

Actually, one of those “nay-slayers” was in the locker room when Sullinger defended his 3-point shooting.

“When we got back in it in the second quarter … it wasn’t because he made 3′s,” said Rondo. “It was because he got the ball out off the rim pretty quickly up the court, and we were able to turn it into transition buckets. The 3′s come and go. I think it’s because he cut his hair he made a couple more 3′s tonight. I told him that.

“So, it worked. He listened. He’s put the time and effort in as well, so I give him a lot of credit. He carried us throughout a stretch of the fourth quarter, but we came up short without getting stops.”

The haircut dig was a joke, by the way, but the subtle reference to defense may not have been. The Celtics are allowing 104.1 points per 100 possessions when Rondo and Sullinger are paired together. For the record, the C’s allow 98.9 points per 100 possessions when the Pressey-Olynyk combo shares the floor. So, perhaps it’s time for both Rondo and Stevens to start rethinking the analytics when it comes to Sullinger’s game.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

At the end of the third quarter, Rajon Rondo was getting stitches on his face, Jared Sullinger was 3-for-11 from the field and the Celtics trailed by 15. They never quit — far from it — but still suffered a seventh loss in their last eight games, 99-90 to the Atlantic-leading Raptors. (Yes, the ones from Toronto are winning the division.)