Celtics

Notes: Arroyo to give Rondo a rest

Notes: Arroyo to give Rondo a rest

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM Doc Rivers enjoys watching Rajon Rondo out on the court, but this season he has been seeing him out there a little too long for his liking.

Rondo is averaging over 37 minutes per game this season, and Rivers has been worried about his playing time.

With Delonte West and Von Wafer injured, and rookie Avery Bradley still developing, the Celtics lacked a reliable option behind Rondo.

So they made finding a backup point guard for a Rondo a priority. On Saturday, they came to terms with veteran Carlos Arroyo.

The guy Ive got to keep down more is Rondo, Rivers said after Rondo played nearly 42 minute on Friday against the Golden State Warriors. Even though hes young, hes still playing too many minutes the last four or five games. With Delonte out, thats put a lot of stress on us as well.

Arroyo was waived by the Miami Heat prior to their acquisition of Mike Bibby. The nine-year veteran averaged 5.6 points and 2.0 assists this season.

The acquisition of Arroyo gives Rondo the opportunity to get some additional rest during the games. Even though he is only 25, Rondo, like the majority of the Celtics, suffered injuries this season.

After battling through a strained left hamstring and sprained left ankle, Rondo is being cautious about his health as he plays major minutes.

Id benefit a lot from playing less minutes, he said. But we dont practice long, we practice hard, so thats key for my recovery. Im doing what I can do on off days as far as getting my rest, icing, getting a massage, so Im young. Ill be ok.

As the Celtics look to add healthy bodies, they still wait for the return of Shaquille O'Neal. O'Neal is not expected to play on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers as originally targeted.

"Shaq probably will not be ready on Wednesday it looks like now because its foots bothering him again a little bit," coach Doc Rivers said after practice on Saturday.

The Celtics are hoping West (ankle) will return on Wednesday. Wafer is day-to-day after straining his right calf on Friday.

"When they say theyre healthy, Im playing them," said Rivers. "Weve just got to get them on the floor."

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hawks

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Hawks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Hawks in Atlanta. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Hawks preview: C's defense looks to keep up historic pace

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Celtics-Hawks preview: C's defense looks to keep up historic pace

As the wins continue to pile up for the Boston Celtics, so does the praise and adulation from others throughout the league. 

It’s a double-edged sword if you think about it. 

Acknowledging how good the Celtics are, is indeed a sign of respect. 

But it also means Boston plays every game with a large target on its back unlike any of Brad Stevens’ previous Celtics teams. 

And that means every game they play, even those like tonight’s matchup at Atlanta where they will be heavily favored, are dangerous matchups.

Because for some teams, the next best thing to competing against the champ (Golden State) is facing the team with the best record who just knocked off the champ. 

That will be one of the dynamics at work tonight when the Celtics (14-2) kick off a three-game road trip against a trio of sub-.500 teams beginning with the Hawks (3-12).

Boston has shown tremendous focus and attention to detail during their 14-game winning streak. But in that span, the Celtics have never had a trio of teams right behind each other that struggled as much as the Hawks, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks have this season. 

Not including games played on Friday, Boston’s next three opponents are a combined 11-33. 

All three of those teams would love to be the one to knock off the Celtics, the kind of victory that could significantly shift the direction of their respective franchises from their current downward spin. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will look to continue to play with the kind of defensive temperament that has catapulted them to the top of the NBA’s defensive standings in several categories. 

“The way they’re beating teams it ain’t pretty,” a league executive texted NBC Sports Boston. “But they win. Last I checked, that’s what matters most.”

And that success has to a large degree, put a bigger bullseye on the Celtics than ever. 

“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”

Especially if they continue to defend at a level we haven’t seen in years. 

Boston has a league-best defensive rating of 95.4. A key component in Boston’s strong play defensively has been their ability to win the battle of the boards. They come into tonight’s game with a .530 rebounding percentage which is second in the league to Portland (.539).

And that defense, while praised for how it functions collectively, it also consists of some pretty good individual defenders as well. 

Among guards averaging at least 20 minutes per game, Boston has four players ranked among the top 10 in defensive rating (Marcus Smart, 93.5 defensive rating, 2nd); Jaylen Brown (93.6, 3rd); Terry Rozier (95.0, 5th) and Kyrie Irving (96.4, 8th). 

When you look at forwards, Brown headlines a trio of forwards that includes himself, Al Horford (94.2, 3rd) and Jayson Tatum (96.1, 7th). 

Aron Baynes has the best defensive rating (90.6) among centers, followed by Horford (94.2).

“Our guys are locked in and really trying and again we can really play some pretty ugly basketball at times,” Stevens said. “But I do think that we are competing which is really good.”