Rondo's Playing Time is Hot Topic in Orlando
ORLANDO – The talk of Boston on Friday was that Rajon Rondo was returning to the Celtics' lineup. The talk of Orlando on Sunday is that Rondo is still under a minutes restriction.
The point guard will play in his second game of the season when the Celtics take on the Magic at 6 p.m. tonight. He spoke to the media at this morning’s shootaround and was peppered by questions about his restricted playing time, which has been set at approximately 18-20 minutes.
Rondo is as competitive an athlete as there is. Sitting on the sideline for nearly 60 percent of the game is difficult for him to do, but he has prepared himself mentally for this situation as his return date approached.
“I want to be patient,” Rondo said. “I knew going into it that it would be 20 minutes. This is the first time in my career where I’m on limitations, but it’s part of it and it won’t last forever, so it’s temporary.”
How temporary the restriction is remains to be seen. Rondo chose to leave that decision up to his doctors, but Brad Stevens gave us an indication as to how long Rondo will be limited to just 20 minutes of playing time.
“I’m guessing it will be at least for the first week, maybe more,” said Stevens.
In the meantime, Rondo is going to need to figure out how to deal with the on-again, off-again nature of his playing time. He and Stevens discussed the possibility of playing more minutes in some quarters than others, but Rondo thinks the best option is to split his playing time evenly across the board.
“That’s about all I can do, probably, is 5-5-5-5,” he said of playing five minutes in each quarter. “It’s hard in the NBA, because actual time you see a ‘5,’ but ‘5’ is about 30 minutes.
“But it’s part of it. I’m not the first guy to do this and I won’t be the last. So I’ll adjust and make the best of the 20 minutes.”
He accomplished that goal on Friday, according to Avery Bradley. Bradley was on the floor alongside Rondo for 15 of the point guard’s 19-plus minutes against the Lakers. Bradley said that Rondo looked great and that he made a noticeable difference on the court.
“Honestly I don’t think he looked rusty last game,” Bradley stated. “He’s so smart at both ends of the floor. Even on the defensive end he made a lot of great plays that nobody’s made since last year, when he was here last year. He just knows how to play the game.”
After making that impact Friday night, Rondo told reporters that it was very difficult for him to take his mind off of the clock. All he could think about was when he was checking out of the game, and when he was checking back in. He’s trying to figure out how to balance his competitive nature with his newfound patience.
“That’s part of the NBA. It’s a lot of ups and downs,” Rondo said. “The best part about it is you have one day to think about it and the next day you have to move on.”
It seems that everyone has moved on from Rondo’s eight-point, four-assist game against Los Angeles on Friday night. Now the obsession is about how long Rondo will play, and how he’ll handle his intermittent playing time.
Rondo, meanwhile, is just concentrating on how he can make the best of his 20 minutes against the Orlando Magic.