Boston Celtics v Atlanta Hawks - Game One

Celtics’ Rajon Rondo suspended for Game 2 against Atlanta

It’s not a shock, but it is a blow.

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will be suspended for Game 2 of their playoff series against the Hawks Tuesday night, the league announced. Celtics president Danny Ainge had confirmed the suspension to A. Sherrod Blakely of minutes before the league made it official

“Rondo has been our best player and it obviously hurts us,” C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, told “Someone else is going to have to step up and make it not as painful without Rondo out there.”

Rondo was thrown out late in Game 1 when he bumped official Marc Davis after arguing a call. The league rule calls for a one game suspension for any player that intentionally makes contact with a referee. The only way it couldn’t be a suspension is if it was considered an accident, and while Rondo stumbled it is clear his bump of the official is intentional.

Boston already lost Game 1 to Atlanta and winning Game 2 without Rondo will be a challenge. The alternative for Boston is going down 2-0 in the series, meaning they would need to win four of the final five games to win the series. A tall order against a quality Hawks team.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.