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Friday, January 20, 2012
Pregame: Rondo out, Bradley starts

By Chris Forsberg



BOSTON -- An MRI on Rajon Rondo's sprained right wrist came back negative Thursday, but the team is playing it safe and sitting him out for at least Friday's visit from the Phoenix Suns. Second-year guard Avery Bradley gets his first career start in his place.

"[Rondo's] not going to play tonight, but he’s getting better, I guess," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "He’ll be OK."

Rivers, who flew to Durham, N.C. to watch son, Austin, play for Duke University Thursday night, said he got a text during the game from trainer Ed Lacerte alerting him that Rondo would sit out. Rivers was uncertain Rondo's status for Sunday's game against the Wizards.

"I know he’s hoping he’s back by Washington, but I really don’t know," said Rivers. "So we’ll just have to wait."

How will the Celtics adjust their offense without Rondo?

"Well, we'll try not to run a point guard offense tonight, if that’s possible," said Rivers. "It’s tough when you build your team around running a point guard offense. But we will try to run more motion stuff. You’ll see Paul [Pierce] with the ball more, you’ll see Kevin [Garnett] at the elbow with the ball more because I think Kevin is our second-best passer. It is different. But we still want to run, we still want to attack. I want Avery [Bradley] and [rookie backup point guard] E’Twaun [Moore] to do as little thinking as possible, I want them to be extremely aggressive. We’ll see what happens."

Rivers noted that by starting Bradley, they protect him with the first unit.

"Really, we just wanted to surround Avery with the better offensive players with Paul, Ray [Allen], and Kevin," said Rivers. "I think E'Twaun, as far as offensively, runs the teams better at the point position. But defensively, Avery’s better. I can’t morph them [together]. The way is to protect Avery by putting him with better players and he has speed, and his speed may allow him to get to the basket, because we’ll have spacing on the floor with Ray, Paul, and Kevin out there."

How will Bradley fare against Phoenix's pick-and-roll heavy offense led by ageless point guard Steve Nash?

"We’ll find out," said Rivers. "It dOesn’t matter what we’ve seen. Because what’s coming is a lot of pick-and-roll. He’s guarded pick-and-roll well, but listen, guarding pick-and-roll and guarding pick-and-roll with Steve Nash, is two different things."

A few other quick pregame notes:

* Mickael Pietrus voiced frustration with the Phoenix medical staff, suggesting they might have known his right knee needed surgery earlier than he was informed (he instead played through the final month of the season in pain). Pietrus offered high praise for Nash, while often stressing how happy he is now in Boston.

* Keyon Dooling declined to chat about a possible setback with his right knee after sitting out practice on Thursday.

* Jermaine O'Neal, who aggravated his left wrist in Wednesday's game and sat out Thursday's practice, is in the lineup tonight.