DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls guard Nate Robinson won’t have an easy introduction to the starting lineup Monday night when he takes the place of the injured Kirk Hinrich against the Boston Celtics. Robinson’s assignment will be lightning fast point guard, Rajon Rondo.
“Being a fan of basketball, just watching him, great player,” Robinson declared after practice on Sunday. “I have my hands full but I’m ready.”
Robinson has played with and against Rondo, having spent time in Boston from 2009-11.
“It’s not me vs. Rondo,” Robinson reminded everyone. “It’s the Bulls vs. Celtics.”
Rondo is averaging 15 points and 13 assists this season while Robinson has been a pleasant surprise for the Bulls coming off the bench. Robinson scored a team high 18 points on Saturday after Hinrich left the game with a hip injury. For the year, he’s averaging 11 points and four assists but now his minutes and responsibility will increase.
“Nate will be ready,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Nate’s been around. Nate’s played against him (Rondo). But they are more than just Rondo.”
“Each year he’s gotten better,” Thibodeau said “He’s very smart and there is not anything he can’t do.”
Which makes Robinson’s first start as a Bull a tough task. Rookie Marquis Teague is Robinson’s backup so Rondo has the edge considering Hinrich was already filling in for Derrick Rose. Robinson explained the strategy in slowing down the Celtics point guard besides “matching his intensity.”
“You have to find him,” he said. “Locate him early. He knows he’s good. That’s what you need first and foremost as a basketball player.”
Carlos Boozer continued to get his coach’s support following his two-point performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Boozer failed to make a field goal in five attempts Saturday, but helped the team in other ways.
“If you look at his plus/minus, it’s a plus,” Thibodeau said. “His rebounding was very good. His team defense in the third quarter was excellent. He just needs some easy scores and he’ll be fine.”
Thibodeau isn’t particularly nostalgic about playing against the Celtics, a team he helped coach to a championship in 2008.
“I appreciate that friendship and what that organization did for me,” he said. “But that being said, that was 2008. That was a long time ago.”