Brad Stevens briefly benches Rajon Rondo in crunch time, regrets it; Rondo says 'I have not been myself.'

With the Celtics clinging to a two-point lead in the final minute of regulation last night, Rajon Rondo committed a turnover that led to a pair of free throws for Detroit center Andre Drummond.  After Drummond missed the first attempt, Brad Stevens took Rondo out of the game with 23 seconds remaining and replaced him with Evan Turner.

Considering that the Pistons needed to foul on the next possession, the substitution had less to do with the untimely turnover and more to do with Rondo's extremely poor free throw shooting this season (9-for-30, 30 percent).  However, it was still very strange to see the team's captain and best player removed from the game in a key situation.

Turner was fouled and hit two free throws (but came dangerously close to drawing an offensive foul on the play), but Caron Butler nailed a clutch three-pointer with 15 seconds left to tie the score.  At that point Stevens put Rondo back on the floor, where he stayed for the rest of regulation and overtime.

Afterwards Rondo said (Via Jay King of Mass Live):

I have not been myself. I haven’t been as aggressive. I haven’t been making shots. I’ve been turning the ball over. So, like I said, a lot of those losses I put on myself, and I’ve got to find a better rhythm.

Rondo is just 3-for-19 from the floor combined over the past three games.  He scored just two points in each contest, something he hadn't done for three straight games since 2011.  He also turned the ball over 11 times in the last two games (four yesterday, seven in Atlanta the night before).

Follow Mark Vandeusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan