Celtics

Rondo earns redemption in win over Wizards

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Rondo earns redemption in win over Wizards

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON After Thursday night's loss at Chicago, there were plenty of Boston Celtics players who, to a man, knew they were better players than what we saw in the team's 16-point debacle in Chi-town.

Near the top of that group has to be Rajon Rondo, who delivered a redemption-esque performance in leading the Celtics to a 104-88 win over the Washington Wizards.

Washington rookie John Wall has explosive quickness, and the ability to score in bunches.

But he's not Derrick Rose, the front-runner for the league's MVP race this year and the man that had his way in shredding Rondo and the rest of the Celtics defense on Thursday night to the tune of 30 points and eight assists.

On Friday, Rondo bounced back with his 31st double-double of the season, tallying 20 points to go with a game-high 14 assists.

Whenever the Celtics play the Bulls, Boston head coach Doc Rivers gets more than his share of Rondo vs. Rose questions.

After Rose had a big game against Rondo on Thursday, those questions once again surfaced.

There's little doubt that Rondo came into Friday's game focused on playing better than he did at Chicago, Rivers isn't sold on the notion that Rose's play had an impact on Rondo's strong game against the Wizards.

"I think it was a response to the way the Bulls' and Celtics' final score was," Rivers said. "I don't think it had a lot to do with Rose. We lost the game and when you lose a game, you go back home, you want to win that game. I thought it was more that."

One of the keys to Rondo's success was that from the game's early moments, he made an effort to get out and run.

That ability to run more is fueled by the Celtics getting stops, and making good outlet passes to Rondo so that he can either look for a basket for the C's in transition, or he can initiate their half court sets quicker.

Still, teammates recognized that Rondo was a more aggressive player at both ends of the floor on Friday.

"When he pushes the ball for four quarters, we are tough to beat," said Paul Pierce, who led all scorers with 22 points.

After Washington cut Boston's lead to 87-83 with more than seven minutes to play, Rivers brought Rondo back into the game.

Moments after checking in, Rondo scored on a lay-up. A couple minutes later, he got a steal and soon found Pierce for a lay-up that gave the C's a 93-83 lead.

"That's part of his progress when he is pushing the ball like that," Pierce said. "We have to get stops also. It goes hand-in-hand. When he is pushing it, we have to get stops and when he's playing that way, we are tough in the fourth quarter."

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

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Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

That Celtics win streak was dope. Let’s map out an even longer one that probably won’t happen. 

Nobody’s actually expecting them to keep the pace they’ve established with their recently concluded run. Still, with 63 games remaining, there’s still time for the Celtics to have up to three win streaks of even longer than 16 games. So, because it’s the holidays and the holidays are all about positivity (fun move you’ve probably picked up from movies: You can say “the holidays are all about _____” and just put in whatever you want and it will work), let’s map out the next win streak. 

MORE CELTICS:

A big part of the Celtics’ 16-gamer (and get ready to say “duh”) is that they were better than a lot of the teams they beat. But they also beat one team that was without question better than them and beat a few teams that could certainly beat them on any given night. 

Here’s a rough breakdown of the 16 games: 

- Even if they didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated, nine games were against what could be classified as easy prey based on their rosters and how those teams were playing: The 76ers, the Knicks, the Kings, the Hawks twice, the Lakers, the Hornets, the Nets and the Mavericks. 

- Let’s say that the Heat (whom they played and beat during the streak before Miami snapped the streak Wednesday) and Magic weren’t perceived pushovers, but rather unremarkable opponents. 

- Four games were against what one could call worthy opponents for the Celtics: the Bucks, the Spurs (though they were missing Kawhi Leonard), the Thunder and the Raptors. 

- Nobody was ever pretending the Celtics were actually better than the Warriors. 

So that breaks the 16 games into one game against an unequivocally superior opponent, four against worthy opponents, two against unremarkable teams, and nine joke books. 

Of course, there are several variables that can be thrown into that, such as the fact that the C’s beat one of the aforementioned good teams (Toronto) without Kyrie Irving and nearly lost to two of those trash teams (Charlotte and Dallas). You can’t predict injuries just like you shouldn’t predict win streaks, but let’s take all the information we have and try to find the next one:

STARTING FRIDAY

Friday vs. Magic (trash; probable win)

Saturday at Pacers (unremarkable; potential loss)

A back-to-back after a holiday with the second game on the road against a team that’s been way better than expected? I don’t like the sound of it. 

Nov. 27 vs. Pistons (worthy opponent; potential loss)

Are they overrated? Maybe, but Pistons currently hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference. Whether it’s the Pacers or the Pistons, I think this short stretch prevents a speed bump. The streak might have to wait. 

STARTING NOV. 30

Nov. 30 against Sixers (upgraded to unremarkable based on recent play; still win)

Remember: The last streak started against the Sixers. Hopefully, Kyrie pays that fans’ way to Boston for a halftime reunion. 

Dec. 2 vs. Suns (trash; win)

Dec. 4 vs. Bucks (worthy opponent; win)

Celtics aren’t losing to those sons of guns twice at home. 

Dec. 6 vs. Dallas (trash; win)

Can you get revenge on a team for almost beating you? Yes. The Celtics will. 

Dec. 8 at Spurs (worthy opponent; win)

Until I see Kawhi on the court, this one is a win. 

Dec. 10 at Detroit (worthy opponent; win)

The Pistons play the Spurs, Bucks and Warriors the three previous games. They’ll be all tuckered out. 

Dec. 11 through Dec. 23 (mix of unremarkable and trash opponents; seven wins)

Dec. 25 vs. Wizards (worthy opponent; win)

Terry Rozier becomes a household name with a Christmas performance for the ages. 

Dec. 27 at Charlotte (trash; win) 

Dec. 28 vs. Houston (worthy opponent; win) 

Dec. 31 vs. Brooklyn (trash; loss)

The Celtics are 0-1 the days prior to holidays this season. The streak ends at 18. 

THE REST OF THE SEASON

We'll assess it then, but for now, let's say undefeated (including playoffs).

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