Celtics

Rondo tells his side of the story

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Rondo tells his side of the story

Today at Celtics practice, Rajon Rondo spoke for the first time since being suspended for last night's game, and his explanation of Atlanta BumpGate 2.0 actually makes a ton of sense.

According to Rondo, the whole thing was a joke. He's friendly with referee Rodney Mott, and was just messing around. "At the time of the bump, I had a triple double, we were up 10, I wasn't angry," he told reporters. Rondo's claim is supported by the video, which clearly shows Mott laughing as he walks away:

Rondo's playful intentions also make more sense when you remember that the guy who benefited from Mott's awful call was Josh Smith aka Rondo's high school roommate and one of his best friends in the league.

You know, the more we hear about this story, the more it seems like Rondo's biggest problem was how he handled the league's "investigation." We don't know exactly what he did, but he certainly pissed off a few people, and that seems avoidable. Why not just tell the league: "Listen, I get it. I can't make contact with the referees. But this was just a joke. Rodney is my friend. Why don't you ask him why he didn't call a 'T'? Ask him if he felt threatened."

Or who knows. Maybe he did. Maybe he tried to explain himself, and the league just wasn't having it. "How can you be so obtuse?!" Rondo screamed. I'm guessing.

But either way, with today's media session, the latest chapter of Atlanta BumpGate is officially over. And unless Danny Ferry has another trick up his sleeve, let's hope it was the finale.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

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."