- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo downplayed any concerns about missing Friday's game due to general soreness and suggested that he expected to encounter situations like this in the early stages of his return to game action after missing nearly a year of basketball.
"I’m fine, just a little sore," Rondo said before the team's practice Saturday. "It’s been a while since I played. So, little sore, nothing major. The knee is fine."
Rondo played in eight games in the span of 20 days after returning on Jan. 17, nearly a full year after tearing his ACL. Celtics coach Brad Stevens noted that Rondo felt increased soreness late in Wednesday's win over the Philadelphia 76ers. The team held him out of practice Thursday, then played it safe with Friday's visit from the Sacramento Kings.
Meeting with reporters before the team's practice Saturday, Rondo playfully dodged most of the questions about his health. Asked if he feels rested after taking Friday's game off, Rondo offered, "Yeah, I'm still sleeping," as he lounged in a chair on the sideline of the practice court.
Asked how his body feels now compared to the aftermath of the Philadelphia game, Rondo said, "Same as it did two days ago." Does he expect to play on Sunday versus the Dallas Mavericks? "I don’t know yet. I’ll talk to my doctors. Talk to my teammates, see how it goes."
Rondo wouldn't divulge if he'd participate in Saturday's practice, joking he'd wait until after reporters left the session to decide that. Boston wasn't scheduled to engage in any heavy lifting Saturday, and coach Brad Stevens suggested Rondo's availability likely wouldn't be known until before the team's game-day shootaround on Sunday afternoon.
"[Rondo will] go through whatever he goes through [Saturday], get with [team trainer] Ed Lacerte, then by the time we walk through at the arena tomorrow, 3:15 or so, we’ll know by then," said Stevens. "That’s kinda the way we will usually do it. You won’t wait until game time, necessarily; you’ll know before shootaround."
Stevens admitted the team is likely erring on the side of caution.
"I think that's where we were [Friday] and that's where he was [Friday]," said Stevens. "And that's why we want to talk to [the doctors]. We want to have their input. He's telling us how he feels on a daily basis. Again, when it's not structural, it's general soreness, you have to weigh all that. You have to balance all that. But at the same time, I think erring on the side of caution one year out from the surgery and 20 days into a new season for him is probably the right move."
Stevens stressed that he's pleased that Rondo has been able to play as much as he has in the infancy of his return.
"That's part of coming back," said Stevens. "That's part of the conditioning of coming back. I've been really pleased, to be honest with you, that since Jan. 17, he's played as many games as he has and been as productive as he has certainly in the last few."
The Celtics have now won three straight games to start the month of February. Rondo admitted both the wins and the upcoming rest from the approaching All-Star break will help this team.
"We’ll get a couple days off to rest [at the All-Star break] -- that’s not only big for me, but our entire team, mentally and physically," said Rondo. "To get a couple wins this month, it’s big for our team, confidence-wise and for camaraderie."