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Rajon Rondo vs. Deron Williams on Wednesday.Rajon Rondo missed Boston's first meeting with the Brooklyn Nets earlier this month due to a sprained ankle, but he's back -- with his 37-game double-digit assist streak in tow -- for Wednesday's rematch at TD Garden, setting up a showdown with Nets point guard Deron Williams.
The almost nightly focus on Rondo and his point guard matchup left Celtics coach Doc Rivers talking at length on Tuesday about the position and what he believes is a new focus on whistles for defenders that impede a guard attacking from the perimeter.
"I think the rule changes -- I mean, hell, I couldn't have played in the league with these rules. Or, I could have been great. I don't know which one," quipped Rivers. "You can't touch anybody. You can't touch above the free throw line. We got two calls the other night, the guy was just -- I would have loved that, offensively; I would have hated it, defensively. It's brought the quick guard back in the league, the small guard back in the league.
"I watched a game [Monday] night late where [a team] ran pick-and-roll every single possession from the first quarter on. I mean, they literally ran it every possession in the game I was watching. It was unbelievable. And they won, because the other team couldn't stop it. It's just quick guards attacking, so that's why."
Rivers, who often yearns for the no-blood, no-foul nature of his playing days, gets frustrated by the constant stop-and-start nature that develops from ticky-tack fouls. Maybe that's why the Celtics spent much of Tuesday's practice focused on pick-and-roll defense, a chance to remind his team how to avoid those tempo-killing calls.
"Every time they call a foul it's worse, because the game stops," said Rivers. "If it's a touch foul, I never liked touch fouls. I think that's why the playoff basketball is so good. They still do the same fouls, but they don't call it as much, and the game is being played. It's a more physical game, but the guards can still move freely. I've always liked it that way better."
Last week before the Spurs and Tony Parker visited TD Garden, Rivers reflected on the multiple variety of point guards the league sees now.
"It’s amazing how many different point guards there are in the league right now, and they are all really good," said Rivers. "You have to prepare for each one in a different way. You have the big ones, the strong ones, the fast ones, the [smart] ones. It’s just different right now with all the different types of point guards and each team has built their team around that style of point guard. It’s a good time in the league right now for that position."
Rivers contends the point guard emphasis might even force teams with high draft picks to alter their typical model of thinking for a franchise cornerstone.
"It's funny, when you're drafting now, it used to be you have a first-round pick -- a first (overall) pick -- and you have a choice between a big and a guard -- it was a no-brainer. I mean, it's still a no-brainer if the big's going to be dominant. But if not, you've got to give serious thought (to the guard). If you think that point guard's going to be special, you've got to think point guard."