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More than ever, the Boston Celtics will count on Rajon Rondo next season. It's possible that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett both leave Boston this off-season, and even if they return, they'll be another year older. Therefore, all eyes remain on Rondo's rehabilitation from ACL surgery he underwent just over four months ago.

As you can imagine, no one wants Rondo to be back more than the point guard himself, and Celtics boss Danny Ainge says #9 has his eyes set on another athlete who made a superhuman return from an ACL tear, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. From the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett.

“He was doing his rehab in Louisville, and then he went back down to Florida to work with Dr. (James) Andrews for a while,” said Ainge.

“Rajon is looking good. We’ve mostly been texting lately. Look, this kid is motivated. I mean, he’s really motivated. Rajon’s a competitor. He wants to be back before Adrian Peterson was back.

“That’s sort of how Rajon is. He doesn’t talk about that stuff all the time, but that’s how he’s thinking. He’s doing well.”
As for a more precise timetable for Rondo’s return, Ainge said, “We don’t talk about that, time frames and all that. It’s way too early for that stuff. We’re just making sure that the rehab is going well, and that’s what is happening.”

For reference, Peterson tore his ACL in late December, 2011, and was dominating the NFL in early September, 2012, a recovery of just over 8 months.

Rondo on the other hand tore the ligament on January 23rd, and is shooting for an opening night return, which would be about a nine month recovery. We took a look at the recovery from ACL injuries after Rondo went down, and with Rondo's work ethic, a Peterson-like recovery is not out of the question. Long way to go of course, but opening night remains a realistic timetable for a Rondo return.

Ainge also spoke to Bulpett about Rondo's continuing evolution as a player, and says that Rondo was watching the team have some success without him following his injury, and expects the now 8th year guard to make improvements because of it.

“Listen, I think Rajon has matured every year,” he said. “He has gotten better. He’s improved on a lot of his weaknesses. He’s a much better shooter, and I just think he’s a smarter player, more poised and less emotional.”

...

“I think Rondo is a smart guy, and he got to see the strengths and weaknesses of our team and the players,” said Ainge. “I think he actually started to see it even before he was out, but when you’re out, you can see things in your team and your teammates that maybe you didn’t see before. You see players that are capable of doing some things that maybe you weren’t sure they could do. I think that’s always helpful. Doc and I have both talked to Rajon about what he can do to get better and what he needs to do.

“And Rondo’s a smart kid on his own. He doesn’t listen to everything you say, but he’s got his own ideas of what he can do to get better, as well. He’s very observant, very street-smart and very basketball-smart, too.

“I always think he’s getting better.”

While the team clearly missed Rondo during the playoffs, you've got to hope that he also took note of the team's intensity level in games against weaker competition. While Rondo raises his level of play to absurd levels when the team takes a national stage, he too often takes plays, and even games, off when the Celtics are playing the dregs of the league. If he could be a little more consistent with his play, he could truly become one of the ten best players in basketball. Something the team needs as they begin to transition into a new era of basketball.

Follow Mike on twitter - Mike_Dyer13

Michael Dyer 6/12/2013 02:15:00 PM Edit
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