Practice: Rondo brings highlights
"Now we have highlights," said Celtics second-year big man Jared Sullinger. "Before we didn’t really have a lot of highlights, other than Jeff [Green] dunking or Jordan [Crawford's] spin move. Now we have a little bit more highlights with the ball fake to the up-and-under layups to the Hakeem shake. We got highlights now. It’s a lot of fun to do the 'Oooohs' and 'Aaaahhs' in practice."
Rondo gained medical clearance Friday to return to full-contact practice activities. The Celtics extended their practices a bit this weekend in part to get Rondo some additional run as he ramps his way towards game action. Rondo isn't expected back on the court until next month.
But his teammates continue to rave about how he looks right now.
"I feel like he hasn’t missed a beat," said Sullinger. "He’s still competing just as hard, his eyes lit up, he has the eye of the tiger, he’s ready to get back out there, obviously."
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he's keeping tabs on Rondo, but admits he has to focus on the players that will be available for upcoming games like Monday's visit from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"Obviously, I was watching him, but I was watching the other 13 guys more intently, because those are the guys that are going to play tomorrow," said Stevens. "He fit right in."
Stevens noted that practices always seemed to jump up a bit with Rondo's presence on the floor, even when he was simply going through skeleton (non-contact) work earlier in the year.
"I will say that when he started in drills, even in October, doing shooting drills or catch-and-shoot drills, he made a difference," said Stevens. "And I would say that would be the case with any accomplished older player, just because they understand. But he certainly has made a difference in the drills."
What Stevens must determine now is (1) How the rotations will be tweaked once Rondo is able to dive back into game actions and (2) How the offense will morph with him. Jordan Crawford is in line to drop to the second unit, but Stevens isn't sure how the guard rotation will alter overall (and he likes the idea of having multiple point guards on the floor at times). Stevens has noted in the past that he's tailored part of Boston's offense in anticipation of the All-Star point guard's eventual return.
"Obviously, it’s not brain surgery," said Stevens. "You want a guy like that to be in position where the floor is spaced well and he can play off pick-and-roll and you can utilize other people’s strengths around him."
Bradley, who has played some of the best ball of his career with Rondo alongside, said of having Rondo back: "It's been good. He's been moving well, and he's just getting used to being out here with us."
A few more notes from Sunday's practice:
- HUMP RETURNS: Kris Humphries went through all of Sunday's practice and remains on pace to return to action on Monday against the Timberwolves. Humphries has missed the last two games with a sore right knee that he had drained on Thursday.
- SNOW DAY!: Sullinger joked that, being from Ohio, he's used to snow. The region got its first substantial accumulation of the season overnight. "Unlike [Louisiana native] Brandon [Bass] or [Alabama native] Gerald [Wallace], they are probably allergic to it," quipped Sullinger. Sullinger said he didn't have any fond memories of snow days from his youth, but noted, "My only memory is playing football in the snow."
- WE TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE?: The Celtics play just one road game over a 22-day span between Dec. 11-Jan. 1. That newfound practice time has to help the team, right? "I’m interested to see that because I think it could really help us," said Stevens. "And at the same time, somehow we got better through that gauntlet of [19 games [in 31 days to start the season]. ... There’s not that lingo gap now that there might have been two months ago with my own verbage and what they hear and going into a game and preparing for a game. Now, we’re much more on the same page. We can be much more efficient. So I hope that happens. That helps the practices as well."
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