Rajon Rondo could return from injury by regular-season opener

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Rajon Rondo said the Celtics would surprise people this season, and this is exactly what he had in mind.

The Boston point guard broke his hand and was expected to be out 6-to-8 weeks, which would have put his return somewhere between Nov. 7 and No. 21.

That still might be when Rondo returns. As of our previous update, he wasn’t near ready.

But don’t rule out Rondo playing sooner, says the point guard and Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

Jay King of Mass Live:

Within the past few days Rondo underwent a CT scan for the broken bone in his left hand, which showed he is “progressing great,” according to Stevens. But the 28-year-old still hasn’t received clearance for contact.

“It doesn’t bother me at all,” Rondo said of the injury. “When I dribble the ball, when I catch the ball, it doesn’t bother me. But it’s night and day from trying to brace myself hitting the floor, and going into the lane and somebody smacking my hand.”

Stevens did not rule out Rondo suiting up for the Oct. 29 opener against the Brooklyn Nets.

“I think it’s a possibility,” the coach said.

Before that, though, Rondo needs to pass another hurdle in his recovery.

“He won’t do any contact before the end of the week,” Stevens said, “but there’s a chance he could be cleared to do some stuff by the end of the week.”

The Celtics, if they have any chance of sneaking into the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference, need Rondo. First-round pick Marcus Smart clearly isn’t ready for a major role, evidenced by Boston potentially turning to Evan Turner as its starting point guard with Rondo out.

If Turner is your best option at that position, you’re in trouble.

Rondo probably can’t lift the Celtics into the playoffs, but he makes the roster fit. Turner can help from the wing. Smart might do OK in limited minutes. Everyone is more comfortable with him on the floor.

If there’s a chance at the postseason, every game Rondo plays gets Boston incrementally closer.