It was an electric night at the Garden for many reasons on Friday evening, but the primary one being the much anticipated return of Rajon Rondo. If you want a full recap on the game - you can check it out here. But right now, we are simply reviewing Rondo's night.
The evening started with a surprise for Rondo, being named the team captain during the starting lineups - an honor that is not to be taken lightly. The plan for Rondo was to play about five minutes per quarter, and coach Stevens did just that. Here's the final line for Rondo: 19 minutes, eight points (4-9 FG), two rebounds, four assists, two steals and one turnover with an overall +/- of -8. Rondo's game, however, was really a tale of four quarters.
As expected, Rondo looked very rusty at the start, and was really just getting his legs under him in the first quarter. He did not score or have an assist in his first five minute shift on the floor, but I think I speak for everyone when I say it was great to even see him back out there.
It took merely until the second quarter for Rondo to kick some of that rust off. Rondo took five of his nine shots during his five minute shift in the second, knocking down four of them. They came mostly as crafty layups like we are accustom to, but one actually came on a post up play which was a nice way to get him involved. Rondo also had one of his rebounds in the first half, but did go without an assist.
We knew the assists would come at some point though, and Rondo dished out three of them while playing the first five minutes of the second half. Brad Stevens stuck to the plan though, pulling him five minutes into the third quarter.
Rondo didn't do much in the fourth quarter, to be honest, putting him back in the game for Phil Pressey may have lost the Celtics the game (I won't complain). The unit that was in the game had a good flow going, and in Rondo's defense it was a tough game for anyone to just jump into and be on the right page, nonetheless after being on the bench for 51 weeks.
In the end, the night came down to Rondo like we all wanted it to. Down three on the last possession you could tell Rondo was searching desperately for a three point shooter, but unable to find one, Rondo let one fly, attempting to send the game to overtime. He missed the shot, but he had the balls to take it - that's enough for me on his first night back.
Overall this was a successful return for Rondo. I wrote earlier about what we can expect from Rondo, although it was more focused towards the rest of the season, Rondo did exactly what we expected tonight - began to shake the cobwebs off.
This is going to be a process for Rondo to get back, but this game was a huge first step. Putting his numbers aside, he looked like he had his speed and his confidence, two very important things. Rondo got swallowed up on a couple of plays, but that is his lack of explosion and timing - supposedly the last two things to come back with an ACL tear.
So far so good, and things are only going to get better people. Just be patient.
Side-note: I freaking love Phil Pressey. Follows up 10 assists/0 turnovers with 9 assists/0 turnovers tonight and knocks down a couple threes for six points. He has ELITE court vision. If Rondo becoming captain means he is here to stay, Pressey would make the perfect backup for years to come.
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Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images Julian Edlow 1/17/2014 10:46:00 PM Tweet