Relieved Rondo Rejoins Teammates

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Boston Celtics won Game 2 against the Atlanta Hawks without the services of Rajon Rondo. They won’t have to do the same in Game 3.

Rondo’s one-game suspension is now over and the point guard returned to practice Thursday afternoon. He will be active and starting at the point when the ball goes up at 7:30 p.m. Friday night in TD Garden.

There has been a clear sigh of relief that has accompanied Rondo’s body language since the conclusion of Game 2. Without him on the floor, the Celtics were supposed to lose Game 2 and fall into an 0-2 hole in this best-of-seven series. Instead, they somehow pulled out an improbable 87-80 victory and in a sense took control of the series.

Doc Rivers said Thursday morning that Rondo waited for every one of his teammates to walk by him outside the team’s idling buses late Tuesday night. The point guard wanted to thank them for preventing a possible loss from weighing on his conscience.

“I told them, ‘Thank you, I appreciate everything you guys have done for me,’ “ Rondo said Thursday morning. “Obviously they won it for themselves, but they told me that, ‘We’ve got this for you,’ so it felt good. It felt like I was a part of it. It changed the series.”

"Changed the series" would be a drastic understatement for Tuesday’s win. Had the Celtics fallen behind by two games, optimism would likely be at a minimum in Boston. The possibility of advancing to the next round would be bleak, at best.

Instead, the Celtics now enter Game 3 with home court advantage in their back pocket and a rested Rondo ready to roar back into action. Interestingly enough, that’s exactly where Boston planned to be earlier this week despite Rondo’s suspension.

“It’s funny, they told me that (they’d win Game 2) when my incident happened,” said Rondo. “They said, ‘We’ll get it for you.’ I was hoping I wasn’t going to be suspended that game, but it happened and like I said, they spoke of [winning Tuesday night] two days before.”

The Celtics came through on that prediction, and now they can look forward to having the best passer in the league run by their sides in Game 3. “I’m a pass-first point guard,” said Rondo. “It’s not like I try to go out there and try to dominate the ball as far as shots. I try to keep my teammates happy and at the end of the day get a win.”

Rondo’s teammates will be elated to have him back on the floor for Game 3. He changes the dynamic of the game and will do the dirty work for his teammates at the offensive end of the floor. In other words, he’ll get them open looks, rather than them having to create their own.

Rondo’s teammates picked him up in Game 2. Now it’s time for Rondo to pick his teammates up in Game 3.