Celtics

Rondo re-aggravates hand injury

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Rondo re-aggravates hand injury

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW ORLEANS Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo has not been himself recently, and now we know why.

The Celtics' all-star point guard has been battling a right pinkie injury, one that Rondo said has been bothering him for the past couple of weeks.

Rondo revealed the injury following Boston's 89-85 win at New Orleans, a game in which Rondo re-aggravated the injury and had to leave the game.

"My finger, my hand went numb," Rondo said. "I was a little concerned about it, going back in."

Rondo eventually returned to the floor, with the finger taped up - something he said he has been doing for the past couple of weeks.

Even before Saturday's win, there were signs that Rondo was starting to get closer to playing like he has throughout most of this season.

On Saturday, Rondo had his jumper going to the tune of nine points on 4-for-8 shooting from the field.

"They were cool. It felt good to hit a shot, more than one," quipped Rondo. "It was a relief. Coaches kept believing in me. I kept working at it, put the time and effort in."

He'll need to continue doing that, because teams will continue to give him the mid-range jumper until he forces them to defend him more straight-up.

As for his injury, it's not expected to keep him out of action.

But it does give Celtics head coach Doc Rivers another reason to continue pursuing ways to cut his minutes down.

During Boston's up and down play of late, a reduction in Rondo's minutes has indeed occurred.

He averages more than 34 minutes per game this season, but has played fewer than that in each of Boston's last five games.

Rivers has marveled at times at how Rondo has grown both as a player and a person, one who is on the road to recovery from his first major slump since emerging as one of the league's top point guards.

"This has been good for him," Rivers said. "You go through stages in your career, you go through struggles. This was really good for him."

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

Young Celtics playing high-level defense without fouling a lot

Young Celtics playing high-level defense without fouling a lot

When you’re an NBA rookie or early on in your career, there’s so much to learn, especially when it comes to playing defense.
 
Despite having at least two players with a year or less experience in the starting lineup and at least three or four other rookies who see regular action, Boston’s top-ranked defense has been able to do the seemingly impossible – defend without fouling a lot.
 
Boston comes into tonight’s game against Atlanta averaging 19.8 fouls committed per game which is the ninth-lowest total in the league.

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Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has some ideas as to how the team has been able to defend without fouling a ton.

“Our length, being able to communicate on the fly, having a system that’s predicated on shrinking the floor, just being very active,” Irving said. “Obviously, we’re going to foul. But the times we don’t foul, we limit teams to some tough shots, some tough two’s or some tough contested threes; I feel we put ourselves in great position. And then when you have guards down there rebounding as well as bigs down there boxing out and staying active it makes all our jobs easier, all five connected out there. We understand the importance of valuing each possession.”
 
The qualities that Irving talks about make sense when you’re talking about the qualities of an elite team defensively.
 
But for the Celtics to have so much youth tossed into such prominent roles, it is unusual to see everything seemingly come together so quickly.
 
“They utilize their length appropriately,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “They’re both long for their positions; that helps. So, you’re not playing Jaylen at the 3 (small forward) as much, and Jayson (Tatum) at the four (power forward) as much. You’re playing them at the two (shooting guard) and three (small forward) a lot. So, they can use that length rather than try and have to battle.”

Irving points out there’s added incentive to play at a high level defensively without fouling.

“If you don’t, you’ll be on the bench,” Irving said. “Brad has made that very clear. If the effort isn’t being put out there, and you’re not paying attention and you’re not preparing the way all of us should be preparing, that goes from the head coach all the way down to the 15th guy, if you’re not preparing the way you should and not perfecting your craft outside the game and that’s being very diligent, understanding what we’re trying to do in strategy, understanding our system, why it works, and why we’re doing it, then why the hell would you expect to play? So, he made it very simple. All the guys understand that. We’re a young team, but what we’re trying to accomplish will take a lot of energy and effort and focus. They understand that at a very young point in the season.”

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Stevens: Celtics haven't played well enough to make streak 'valid'

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Stevens: Celtics haven't played well enough to make streak 'valid'

You know who else - besides Charles Barkley - isn't impressed by the Celtics' 14-game winning streak?

Their coach. 

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At the shootaround in Atlanta before the Celtics attempt to make it 15 in a row tonight against the Hawks, Brad Stevens told reporters, including ESPN's Chris Forsberg, that his team hasn't played well enough to make the streak "valid." 

“We haven’t played well enough to consider this win streak to be valid in my opinion,” Stevens said."We’ve figured out ways to win games. We gotta play a lot better.”

The Celtics have come back from double-digit deficits a number of times in the streak. Stevens said they're fortunate those rallies have kept the streak going.  

"We've got to be better, and we know that," Stevens said. "We can't get so caught up in the results of all these games and ride that emotion. We've been fortunate to win a lot of the games in this streak, including Thursday night [92-88 over the defending champion Golden State Warriors]. If we dig ourselves a 17-point hole every other game, it's not going to be as much fun as we've had recently."