Celtics

Milestone Monday: Rondo passing into greatness

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Milestone Monday: Rondo passing into greatness

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES The Boston Celtics have had their share of great playmakers.

But it's safe to say they've never quite had a guy running the show like Rajon Rondo.

The 6-foot-1 guard has a knack for combining a high level of basketball flair with intense focus.

"Rondo is by far the smartest player I've been around," said Celtics guard Nate Robinson.

That tandem of skills have allowed him to rise to the top of the NBA leader's list in assists (12.6) per game this season.

Those qualities, sprinkled with the kind of speed that makes every time he steps on the floor a track meet, have him among the handful of players in the conversation about who is the league's top point guard.

"When he plays with speed, he has power," said coach Doc Rivers.

Speed is indeed a big part of his success.

It's a fitting trait for him to have when you consider how quickly he's racing up the charts among all-time assists leaders for the Celtics.

Rondo, who now has 2,596 career assists, recently cracked the Celtics' all-time top 10 in this category.

Making Rondo's rise even more remarkable is that he's done it in such a short period of time.

Rondo, who will be 25 next month, is about halfway through his fifth NBA season.

When you look at the nine players currently ahead of him on the C's all-time assists leaders list, all but two (Dennis Johnson and K.C. Jones) spent at least 10 seasons in the Green and White.

Johnson and Jones spent seven and nine seasons with the Celtics, respectively.

While he doesn't quite have their level of experience, Rondo more than makes up for that with the kind of selfless game that makes him the kind of teammate this group of Celtics love to play with.

"It's beautiful watching him grow, and how hard he wants it and how hard he goes," said forward Kevin Garnett. "Sometimes he'll see something that you don't see, and he'll make you see it. I guess it's the point guard vision. He has a very high I.Q., when it comes to basketball. He understands angles. That's what makes him who he is. That's what makes him unique. He plays both ends, doesn't take nights off. You roll with a guy like that. We respect him even more just because we've seen the process. It's good."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the 76ers at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview:  Celtics need to improve shooting

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Celtics-Magic preview: Boston looks to improve shooting down the stretch

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Celtics-Magic preview: Boston looks to improve shooting down the stretch

BOSTON – When Celtics coach Brad Stevens was asked about what he saw in the team’s newest (10-day) addition Jarell Eddie, his response was, “shooting  . . .  shooting.”

Indeed, shot-making has been the one area of play that has been problematic for the Celtics most of this season.

Boston comes into today’s game against Orlando (13-32) shooting just 44.8 percent from the field which ranks 25th in the NBA.

In the month of January, Boston has been even worse, connecting on just 41.8 percent of their shots which ranks 29th in the league this month.

While the addition of Eddie had more to do with the recent flu bug that has made the rounds throughout the Celtics lineup and the uncertainty a couple days ago surrounding Kyrie Irving’s sore left shoulder (it has improved and he’s expected to play today), adding Eddie speaks to a greater problem -- guys making shots -- that has to be addressed in some capacity sooner or later.

Boston always has the option to pursue a trade. They also have an $8.4 million disabled player exception they can use on free agent players, with the most likely pool of talent that they will choose from consisting of players who would have been bought out by their current teams.

Or there’s raiding the G-League for talent, which is what they did in signing Eddie to a 10-day contract.

Regardless, there’s a growing sense that this team has to add more scoring punch to the mix or at a minimum, improve the overall offensive execution of the roster as it stands now.

“We have to do our stuff better,” Stevens said. “The start of the season it was predictable, losing Gordon (Hayward who suffered a dislocated left ankle injury in the season-opener) and having to adjust. The middle portion of games we were pretty darn good. And then I thought we were reasonable in London, reasonable against New Orleans. But the other three of the last five games, we weren’t very good.”

Boston’s offense should get a boost from Irving’s return to the lineup after missing Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia with a sore left shoulder.

And while it was just one game, Irving understands the challenge that lies ahead in getting Boston’s offense to play better and more consistently.

“We have very unique talents on this team,” Irving said. “When you’re trying to put that together and guys are coming back into the lineup and getting their rhythm still and guys are in and out sometimes … big picture, down the stretch, we’re going to need everyone to be on the same page.”

Marcus Morris has been one of the players who has been in and out of the Celtics lineup because of a sore left knee.

However, the schedule has eased up to where he’ll be able to play more games, for longer stretches.

He comes into today’s game having scored in double figures each of the last three games.

“I’m just trying to get healthy. I know what I can do,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “My confidence is always going to stay high, no matter if I miss or make shots.”

In the last three games, he has averaged 15.0 points while shooting 45.7 percent from the field.

While Morris’ play of late is promising, it doesn’t diminish the concern Boston should have for an offense that for the most part, has been sputtering this season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE