Rajon Rondo predicts late January, early February return

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Rajon Rondo is back on the practice court with his Boston Celtics, but he’s still a ways away from a return.

Rondo spoke to the media after the Celtics were routed by the Indiana Pacers Sunday and for the first time gave a vague timeline for his return, reports A. Sherrod Blakely at CSNNE.com.

“My endurance is key for me,” he told reporters after Boston’s 106-79 loss at Indiana on Sunday. “I don’t want to come back and not be fully 100 percent as far as my health and me being in shape as well. The worst thing for me is to not be in shape and have another injury. I want to make sure I’m in basketball condition shape.”

After initially telling reporters a January return was not realistic for his return, he later said that, “it might be mid-January, late February. I’m going to come back when the time is right and when I get my stamina.”

So the second half of January, or maybe February. Rondo is giving himself a big window — but he’s allowed to do that.

It’s not about this season for Boston, who have lost three straight and slipped to 12-17 on the season, surrendering their Atlantic Division lead to Toronto (who doesn’t want it either). Brad Stevens and his team are not tanking, but if they make the playoffs even with Rondo back they are first round fodder for even teams like the Hawks or Wizards.

It’s about next season and the five after that for Rondo and the Celtics. He needs to be right and feel comfortable, then he still can’t be pushed too hard — do I really need to point out the star players who just came back from major injuries only to be lost for again with another one? Slow is good.

Rondo is no doubt one of the top point guards in the game (and that’s saying something considering the depth at that position around the league now). Slow and steady. Don’t return until he feels ready. That can take as long as he needs.

Video Breakdown: Clippers use JJ Redick in split cut to fool Jazz at 3-point line

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The Los Angeles Clippers dropped Game 5 to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, and find themselves down 3-2 as they head back to Salt Lake City for Game 6. The Clippers have had to deal with Utah’s formidable defense, so much so that they’ve built in counters to Jazz defenders overplaying shooters like JJ Redick.

One example of this countering method could be found in Game 3, when the Clippers ran a split cut for Redick. Instead of fighting endlessly around screens for a 3-point shot as you might expect, LA took the easy route and simply cut Redick to the basket for an easy layup as a means to take advantage of an overeager defender.

We’ve talked about the Split Cut here on NBA Playbook before. The Los Angeles Lakers used it earlier in the season to beat the Golden State Warriors, the team that uses the split cut perhaps the most out of any team in the NBA.

Other teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, have adapted the Warriors’ use of the split cut as a counter for their own offense this season, which is a testament to just how useful it is.

If you need a reminder, a split cut all about a screener coming up to screen, then cutting toward the basket before his screen action fully takes place. It’s about timing, and catching defenders off guard when they go to set up their recover positions for screens.

For a full breakdown on the split cut and how the Clippers used it, watch the video above.

John Wall wears cape to postgame press conference (video)

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John Wall has been super, averaging 27 points and 11 assists while leading the Wizards to a 3-2 lead over the Hawks in the first-round.

Did you see Isaiah Thomas carry in Game 5? ‘No,’ says Fred Hoiberg, who walks off (video)

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Fred Hoiberg opened himself to clowning by complaining about Isaiah Thomas carrying.

So, the Bulls coach got clowned after the Celtics’ Game 5 win.

Jae Crowder leg-locks Robin Lopez (video)

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Late in the Celtics’ Game 5 win over the Bulls last night, Jae Crowder leg-locked Robin Lopez – the same dirty play that caused rancor for Matthew Dellavedova in the 2015 playoffs.

Lopez blocked Crowder’s shot, but the ball went to Al Horford, who attacked the basket. As Lopez tried to rotate to contest another shot, he couldn’t move. Crowder, who’d fallen to the floor, had him in a leg-lock. Lopez freed himself just in time to foul Horford.

Adding insult to avoided injury, Lopez got hit with a technical foul for complaining about the no-call.

I bet the league issues a technical foul on Crowder, too.