Rajon Rondo won’t play back-to-backs rest of season

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The Boston Celtics and Rajon Rondo have had better days behind them.

In front of them too, they hope.

Boston will miss the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, and Rondo missed the All-Star Game for the first time in four years. To avoid repeating either outcome, Rondo must get fully healthy.

That’s why the Celtics will be cautious as they close this season.

Celtics president Danny Ainge, via CBS Boston:

“Based on where we are as a team and Rondo is his rehab, it’s probably safe to say he won’t play back-to-backs the rest of the year,” said Ainge. “We need him to play because we want him to get re-acclimated; there’s a mental process and mental hurdle to overcome when you come back from an ACL tear.”

“So it’s important for him to play some games, but at the same time we don’t want to wear him out or take any risks. We want him to have a full year of rehab and strengthening and not take any steps backwards,” he said. “We’re going to be careful with Rondo as we finish the year. It appears he’s gaining ground to being back to who he is, and we want to see him at 100 percent next season.”

Rondo has skipped the second game of all five back-to-backs Boston has played since returning from injury, and this this means Rondo will miss at least four more games this season.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens previously said Rondo would always play the first game of back-to-backs. That way, there’d be at least a chance he could play in both games. If Rondo skipped the first game, obviously, it’d be impossible for him to play both if he felt better than expected.

Now that it’s predetermined Rondo will play only one game per back-to-back, maybe Stevens re-thinks that strategy. It’s just another way for the first-year coach to learn on the job.

And, more importantly, a way for the Celtics to improve their lottery odds.

Most importantly, though, a way to ensure Rondo is healthy for next season.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

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J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

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Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.