AP Photo/Charles Krupa
The Celtics are still awaiting word on the fate of point guard Rajon Rondo.ATLANTA -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said point guard Rajon Rondo talked with league security on Monday morning, but was still awaiting a verdict on whether he'll be suspended after bumping a game official during the final moments of Sunday's Game 1 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena.
Rondo did not make himself available to reporters before the team's practice Monday on the campus of Georgia Tech, but the team seemed resigned to the likelihood that he will be suspended for Tuesday's Game 2.
"Rondo talked to league security this morning and hopefully we’ll know sooner than later, that’s the one thing we would always like," said Rivers. "We’ll find out and we’ll be ready to play basketball when they tip it off tomorrow."
Rivers said he's re-watched the sequence in which Rondo chest-bumped referee Marc Davis with 41 seconds remaining in Sunday's 83-74 loss, earning his second technical and automatic ejection, and still doesn't believe there was intent on Rondo's behalf.
"Well, they ran into each other, no doubt about it," said Rivers. "I thought it was a bump and the league’s going to do what they have to do. I still don’t think it was ever intentional. I just think you get heated and I think he was more upset from the missed call the play before -- the out of bounds play. I thought that started it."
Right before the flareup, Rondo appeared upset when an out-of-bounds call went against the Celtics at the other end of the floor. Rondo erupted in anger when Davis then called a foul on Brandon Bass when he tried to go to the ground with Josh Smith and force a jump ball in a four-point game.
"It’s funny, when I watched it live, it’s amazing how your eyes are wrong," said Rivers. "I told Brandon [on Sunday] that I thought it was a foul and that Marc made the right call. Then when I watched it, I apologized to him. It should have been a jump ball. Having said all that, we gotta control our emotions, no doubt about that. We talked about that two days ago as a team. Rarely do I have those type of meetings, and I did, now I’m wishing I hadn’t. Maybe if I hadn’t have talked about it, nothing would have happened. It is what it is. We’ll be ready for whichever way it goes."
Rivers playfully joked that no call from league security is ever a good phone call ("They never call and say, 'Hey, Doc, you coached a great game last night!'), but said he wasn't trying to overthink the process. Two players (Phoenix's Robin Lopez and Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu) and a coach (Lakers coach Mike Brown) were suspended one game apiece earlier this season for contact with an official and Rivers wasn't about to speculate how the league would gauge Rondo's incident.
"I can’t get into the mind of the league, I have no idea what they are deciding," said Rivers. "We don’t even know who really decides. There’s no reason for me to guess."
Rivers stressed that the team simply wants to know the ruling sooner than later as to be able to game plan for Game 2. As the team started its afternoon practice (this after a lengthy film session at the team hotel), Rivers said they were still awaiting official word.
Are the Celtics ready to play without Rondo?
"We’re preparing to have him at this point until we hear otherwise," said captain Paul Pierce, who later added, "We don’t know if he’s going to get suspended now. I looked at it again and it looked real minor to me. We just gotta wait and see what the NBA says."
Said veteran guard Keyon Dooling: "It’s a possibility that [Rondo] might be suspended -- there’s another opportunity for guys to step up. We still expect to go out and play our game plan, play our basketball, and win every time we step on the court. But hopefully the incidental bump, they'll be lenient with it, and we’ll have him and be ready to go."
Despite the chaos Rondo's outburst has caused, Rivers likes the fire he plays with.
"It’s part of the package with our team; We’re a volatile team, in a lot of ways," said Rivers. "Rondo’s an emotional player. I’d rather tend to a fire than start one. I like his fire. And sometimes it burns you. You know what I mean? I like the fire that he has. Someone asked the question: Why was he involved? Because he’s into the game. He’s a fighter for his team. You didn’t want him to go that far, obviously. It’s just who he is. It’s also what makes him great. It’s that fine line that you gotta walk and every once in a while he crosses it."