Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Pressed on a timeline, Rondo remained noncommittal.
“It might be mid-January, late February, I’m going to come back when the time is right and I get my stamina,” Rondo said.
[...] “A lot of these guys, I haven’t played with so they don’t know where I am going to throw the ball. They’ve been playing with Jordan [Crawford] and Phil [Pressey] so I don’t want to come back and turn the ball over at a high rate. The pickup game I played the other day was good for guys knowing that certain passes they might not think are coming are coming, so I want to continue to get guys rhythm. Guys like [Jared Sullinger], Gerald Wallace back cutting, Avery [Bradley] back cutting, I just have to find my personnel and know what we need to do going forward.
“You can run all the sprints you want, off the court or get on the bike, but being out 10, 11 months without playing the game of basketball … it’s not easy to get back in shape by just doing those type of things. You have to play basketball.”
I have to admit, I’m a bit surprised by the level of responsibility Rondo has shown with his impending return. My biggest fear about his rehab was that he’d see Adrian Peterson’s relatively speedy return from his ACL injury as a challenge… that he, as an elite athlete, can return just as fast or faster from the same injury.
But Rondo has taken all the right steps along the way. He doesn’t seem to be overly frustrated by the process, and he’s willing to take the right amount of time before he’s back to ensure that nothing associated with his rehab will lead to a related injury.
A lot of people will point to Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose as examples of what Rondo wants to avoid, but I don’t think they really apply. Those were coincidental injuries really unrelated to initial injury. Kobe and Rose could have suffered those exact same injuries at the exact same time no matter what.
Regardless, Rondo is taking a cautious approach. I’m sure Danny Ainge is in his ear a little… encouraging him to take it slow and not come back too soon. Adding Rondo to this team could reverse some of the things that are leading to the losses the Celtics need to keep pace in the Wiggins/Parker/Randle, et. al. sweepstakes. Sure, the Celtics might have still blown massive leads to Detroit and Washington, but I’m betting that Rondo on the floor at the end of those games would have changed the outcome. Rondo wouldn’t have done anything to change last night’s result unless he grew a foot and defended Hibbert in the post, but he can still swing the results of games against similarly matched teams.
So the Celtics are happy to let Rondo rehab further, and Rondo seems happy to get his stamina up for another month. With the Celtics on a 3-game losing streak and now slipping out of first in the Craplantic Division (the 11-14 Toronto Raptors are your new leader) and into the 8th seed, the pre-season expectations are now starting to align a little more closely with the results. If the team and Rondo are happy to continue another month (and a brutal January schedule at that), then so be it. Welcome to the 2013-14 Boston Celtics everyone.
Page 2: Brad Stevens regrets not savoring his return to Indy
Stevens saw a lot of familiar faces in the stands. He could have joined some of them, for how this game turned out.
“I wish I would have, but I really didn’t (savor the atmosphere),” Stevens said. “Just walking out there, and seeing a lot of familiar faces, people I’ve grown up around, was great. But then the game becomes the game and you start coaching.
“I probably would have been better sitting up in the stands with somebody, the way we played.”
Here’s the difference between a virtual robot like Brad Stevens and an emotional guy like Doc Rivers. Here’s Doc on his return to Boston:
And after those nearly 10 full, difficult seconds that seemed to last minutes, the teary-eyed coach who spent nine years as the Celtics’ coach, who helped raise the 17th banner in the illustrious franchise’s history, gathered himself for a moment.
“It was just a really nice day,” he said, his voice still breaking, every word a struggle.
“This is, it’s just such a classy place here, and so it was, um . . . ”
Again, his emotions overwhelmed him, and he was forced to pause to regain his composure.
“It was really nice when I walked out and, you know I’m not used to walking out on that side, and all those guys, the people, they lined up and I was basically useless for the first 18 minutes of the game, I thought.
[...] “I told my coaches, I needed halftime far more than the players,” Rivers said. “And I think they sensed that, I will say that. You could see at halftime, [Chris Paul] was like, ‘We got it. We got it.’ He kept saying that. So I think they sensed that a little bit for me.”
In a way, this shows how good Stevens is for this particular Boston team. I’ve said it before in this space, but the Celtics need to be led by the steady hand. They need the guy who is stone-faced in both grand victory and crushing defeat. They need to know that the bad isn’t as bad as they fear and the great isn’t as good as they’d like to believe. Never celebrate the victories to hard these days, because the losing streaks are around the corner. Never let those streaks get you too down because a win is still within your grasp if you execute well.
That’s not to say that Doc can’t steer a ship like that, but he’s an emotional guy, and his return contrasts rather starkly with Stevens’, who barely mustered a couple of salutes to the home crowd in Indy. This is a team in its infancy, and just like any infant at home, they’ll catch that one millisecond you let your guard down and mimic that for a week.
C’mon, parents. Who hasn’t thought you were alone when you opened up that post-Christmas credit card bill, saw the balance, and muttered to yourself “ahhh shit,” only catch your four-year-old out of the corner of your eye and hear “SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT” out of his mouth as he bounds around the house.
It’s not much different with the Celtics, who will follow Stevens’ lead until he breaks character and gets a technical foul. I’ll guarantee you if that happens, you’ll see a run of techs from the team who now think it’s ok to let some emotion fly out there.
So Stevens probably felt like he couldn’t savor the moment, because it’s his job not to. This way when other guys go to their home towns and maybe try to put on too much of a show, he can say “hey, I ignored my family and friends to focus on a game where you all sucked, now it’s your turn to focus on this one and forget about who’s in the stands.”
You can still lead NBA players by example, even if you’ve never been one.
Related links: WEEI: Stevens return spoiled by Pacers rout
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