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.