It’s been an entertaining week for the Boston Celtics.
In the past week, the Boston Celtics have gotten back premier defender Avery Bradley, roared back from a 19 point deficit, been called to the Principal’s office and chased down corridors by opponents angered by rouge breakfast cereal references.
They have also taken three games in a row against some of the best the Eastern Conference of the NBA has to offer. As a reward, they get to spend the next 9 days playing five games at TD Garden starting tonight against one of the worst the Western Conference can dig up.
After the captivating couple of days the Celtics have had, that kind of stage setting can make folks get a little lax and comfortable, but when the Green take the floor tonight at 7:30 against the Phoenix Suns, you can bet their “Bad boy” point guard’s return from suspension will have them fired up.
The Celtics welcome point guard Rajon Rondo back after his one game, Danny Ferry-induced suspension for grazing an official during the Celtics win over Ferry’s Atlanta Hawks.
It has been reported that the former whining NBA forward – now the General Manager of the Hawks – was so distraught over his team blowing that 19 point lead to Boston that he pulled a Mangini, sending a video of Rondo engaged in some jocularity with the official to the league office, something that Rondo says was an innocent, rather playful exchange.
Rondo said Tuesday he was simply making a joke with referee Rodney Mott when he bumped him in Saturday’s game, and the “incident” seemed perfectly harmless at the time.
“I know Rodney (referee Rodney Mott) and that particular time on that play, I actually went up to him and I made a joke, he laughed. In the midst of it I guess I touched him. I did touch him, and the league, I guess, reviewed it.”
Ferry’s schoolgirl tattling tantrum aside, there were silver linings all over the place in the team’s 102-96 grinding win over the New York Knicks on Monday night, not the least of which was a return of the renowned Celtic swagger.
“Winning this game here, without Rondo, just tells you our guys hung in there.” beamed Celtics coach Doc Rivers, “It’s funny, we didn’t have much of an offense, just spread. That’s all we could run, because we didn’t have a lot of sets without Rondo. But our defense was fantastic.”
Boston is now back at the .500 mark, where they’ve been hovering all season – but this time they’re riding that season-high three game winning streak, and with their next five contests being played in the comfortable confines against fair to poor competition, this is the perfect opportunity to break into a proper surge.
And what better way to start said surge than against a 12-24 Phoenix Suns team that is mired in the throes of a 10 game road losing streak, their longest such streak in 3 decades.
Sitting with the second worst record in the Western Conference and dead last in the Pacific Division, the Suns can be described as a two man show. Point guard Goran Dragic leads Phoenix in assists and in scoring at just under 15 points per game and Center Marcin Gortat boasts an average of almost 9 rebounds per game.
Perhaps the only other player that would be of mild interest to Boston fans is Center Jermaine O’Neal, a recent former teammate – and you’ll need a game program to recognize anyone else. But their ongoing plight is something that should sound very familiar to Celtics’ fans:
“We can’t play 40 minutes, 42 minutes or 38-minute games where we play pretty good and give ourselves an opportunity and then let it deteriorate away over a four- or five-minute period,” Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. “That’s kind of how our season has gone, really. We’ve just got to find a way to get better. The season is slipping away.”
That sounds like what the Celtics were whining about just a week ago.