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How Long Should The C’s Rest Rondo?

 

The Celtics Twitter is reporting that Rajon Rondo looks to be a game-time decision for tonight’s game against New Jersey despite participating in the team’s shootaround this morning in Waltham. The C’s point guard has missed the team’s last two games since straining his hamstring against Oklahoma City Friday night.

Boston has now gone 1-1 in Rondo’s absence, but arguably played their best game of the season without him Monday night in Atlanta, functioning well as a unit on both ends of the floor without their usual floor general.

With the team playing so well, Doc Rivers had an interesting quote about Rondo’s status, courtesy of Julian Benbow’s Globe Notebook:

“There’s just no benefit of playing one of your key guys, or any guy, getting them injured, and now they’re out for the season or longer than they should be,’’ Rivers said. “I would rather take the approach of doing without him early right now, and in a lot of ways it could help your team in the long run.’’

So this line got me thinking in particular…..just how long could the Celtics get away with resting Rondo right now with his injury…..and the more important question: Should they? I say yes, for a few reasons

1) Rondo had been dealing with multiple injuries
Yes, Rondo is technically dealing with the strained hamstring right now. However, remember that “mild case” of plantar fasciitis Rondo was dealing with just a couple weeks back? The case that made Rondo incapable of dribbling the ball up the floor for a couple trips late in the Chicago overtime win? Well that’s an injury that has a track record of taking a month or two to heal. In fact, it can end up affecting some guys for an entire season if you aggravate it, just ask Joakim Noah about last year. And the one real prescription for plantar fasciitis? Rest.

2) Nate Robinson is playing fantastic basketball right now
The little guy may have gotten off to a poor start this year shooting the ball, but he’s really come on in the last six games, morphing into the explosive offensive option that make the C’s even more dangerous than ever.

Just take a look at the numbers. In the past six games, Nate is shooting a tremendous 61.7 percent from the field (29/47) as well as 52 percent from downtown (12/23) in just 20 minutes a game. Throw those numbers in with 2 boards and 3 assists a contest, and you have yourself quite the capable fill-in at the starting spot.

Just as important as the offense though, has been Nate’s D. The little guy is gambling less this year (his low steal average for the year shows it) and he is working hard to stay in front of his man and work through screens while guarding larger point guards.

Finally, there’s the distribution factor. There’s no one better in the league at getting every one the ball when and where they need it than Rondo. Robinson, on the other hand is a shoot-first point guard. At least he was. I was skeptical of Nate ability’s to be any more than that in his Celtic career.

That skepticism is well warranted, yet the guy showed great strides this year, especially in the Atlanta game, of showing himself to be a capable distributor and someone with a firm grasp of the team’s halfcourt offense. Many of the easy buckets that night were set up by Robinson’s assists (10 on the night, 2nd highest of his career in a single game). His assist rate (23.3%) is also the second highest showing in a season thus far.

With a year as a Celtic under his belt, Robinson is showing the knowledge of the team’s sets, that in turn is giving Doc Rivers the confidence to start him over another capable backup in Delonte West, who is still battling back problems amongst other well documented issues. So why not let Nate run with the starters now with Rondo banged up if he’s doing the job well?

3) Improved depth at the point guard spot
In past years, an injury to Rondo would be a certified disaster, forcing the team to go with a skilled, but flawed player like Eddie House to fill the role. This year, not only do you have Nate Robinson, but West and a green Avery Bradley to go along with them.

That’s the deepest the team has been at the position in years and although Bradley and West are still a bit banged up, the team can go into a game knowing they have three players capable of playing the point, even without Rondo. That’s a luxury they haven’t had in years.

And with Rajon being overextended minutes wise through his first ten games, averaging 39.6/minutes a contest (3rd highest in the league) thanks to Delonte’s suspension, now is the time for him to get refreshed while the team has the chance to give him the rest.

4) A Chance To See How Nate Runs With The Starters
I say this, mostly because this is a situation Doc probably rarely gets to see, at least in game-time situations. You have to admit though, in these past two games, Nate adds an impressive dynamic to that starting lineup. As a 3rd guy capable of scoring anywhere on the floor, the team offensively looked unstoppable at points with Nate both distributing and hitting his open jumpers all over the floor.

It’s a unit that Doc probably didn’t think much about using, but it’s nice to give it a few runs now in the early going, so the team can have it in it’s back pocket when it counts.

Put all of this together, with an upcoming weak schedule (New Jersey, Toronto, @ Cleveland in next week) and count me amongst those who are looking to see the team’s All-Star point guard to get an extended holiday break over the next week.

I know this column could be very well a moot point come 7:30 tonight, but my gut says the team will be cautious with Rondo for all of the reasons listed above. The guy is not going to sit out on his own later in the year, so why not do it now and nip any lingering injury problems in the bud?

  • NHBluesMan

    i agree completely. I'd rather have a healthy Rondo when it counts in the post-season, especially since Nate is playing so well. The C's depth is ridiculous, and once Jermaine and Perkins come back we'll have so many different line-ups to throw at teams that it'll be impossible for them to be prepared for all of them

  • Devin_in_Maine

    Tonight will tell for sure, but I couldn't agree more about the rest. If there was ever a 10+ day stretch to rest him, we have it now.

    About Delonte though…I thought Doc said his back was fine. Is he still having issues?

    • Berkcelt

      I'm not sure when, might have been after the Toronto game, but Doc did mention Delonte's back as bothering him recently. Which came as a surprise to me because when Delonte came back not too much earlier before that, he said Delonte was good to go.

  • Morpheus

    Totally,rest Rondo as much as possible,no need to play him tonight. Nate,Delonte and Bradley proovide possibly the best depth at the 1s and 2s in the league. How lucky are we though, to have your best player rest from injury and have 2-3 capable players coming in and filling the gap. Rest Rondo for another week if need be.

  • idaho

    Yeah, the article makes it sound like Delonte has issues. Right now it is just a matter of getting comfortable in the system but the issues are in the past right?

    • Jay P

      Hopefully.

      His bipolar disorder isn't exactly going go away. It's not something you just "cure" but through hard work, counseling, medications, and just being in a good state of mind, it seems Delonte has made considerable strides.

  • Tom W

    Absolutely rest Rondo. If he could have the rest of the week off, I'd be THRILLED.
    But my question about Nate's defense…he can stay in front of his man all he wants, but his man can still shoot over him most of the time. Against a good shooting point guard like Devin Harris, who also happens to be 6'3.
    I'd be interested in giving Bradley some extended minutes…even some meaningful minutes against some of these less than stellar teams we have coming up.

  • mike

    let him sit…it will do 2 things

    1.give rondo a rest (believe it or not i don't think that's the most important reason)

    2. keep the boys motivated

  • aaron

    doc should make him play, my 5 year old only watches with me when rondo is on the floor, otherwise i'll get stuck playing Thomas.

    • Chris O

      Haha hilarious, but Rondo is a 'draw'

  • Tristan

    Rest him for a couple of reasons, one so that he can get healthy, two so the other guys can have some extended court time with the team which bradley and west could use right now considering they both miss the first 10+ games and third, well the guy I’m up against in my fantasy league this week has rondo and I could the more games rondo misses the greater the chance I have of beating him…

  • Kobe's Daddy

    I say we let him rest for a couple weeks, through this stretch of crap teams and broken dreams

  • JP-

    I wouldn't mind letting Rondo rest a few games, if my memory serves me correctly, the schedule isn't too tough ahead, and Nate is filling in well. I say let him rest, get him back healthy.

  • Jeff L

    If Nate plays well and Delonte gets into shape & contributes, rest him as long as he needs. It would be nice to have him back for the Christmas game against Orlando. If Bradley can get a little seasoning and success during the next weeks so much the better. If Pierce and Allen's minutes start creeping up to compensate I'd start to feel the urgency.

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