BOSTON -- Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo sat out his third consecutive game Wednesday night, when Boston beat the New Jersey Nets 89-83. Coach Doc Rivers indicated there's a strong likelihood that Rondo will also miss Friday's game against the Toronto Raptors because a three-day break on the horizon could allow Boston's floor general further rest for a sore left hamstring.
"He's not going to play tonight," Rivers said Wednesday an hour before tip-off after Rondo tried to warm up on the floor. "Again, I let [trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and him kinda go about their business. He actually tried to go through shootaround today, even though we kinda just walked through stuff -- literally walked through things, I don't even know if I'd call it a shootaround -- and he didn't feel good doing that, so, obviously, he can't play yet."
Rivers did stress that, as far as he knows, the injury isn't any more severe than the strain the team first indicated, but they Celtics are exercising extreme caution, especially with the extended rest approaching.
"Honestly, I have no idea [about the severity]," said Rivers. "I don't think it's anything -- it's not a bad hamstring or whatever. You just have to be careful with it. ... Obviously, if Eddie says he can go [Friday], that would be something we would have to talk about because we do have three days off after that game. We'll just see what it is on Friday."
With Rondo sidelined again, Nate Robinson earned his third straight start and received glowing reviews from Rivers, particularly for the ball pressure that his coach believed fueled Boston's monster effort Monday in Atlanta (particularly on the heels of Boston's letdown the day before in Toronto).
"[Robinson has] been great; Nate's played two terrific games," said Rivers. "Our offensive numbers haven't changed at all [without Rondo] and, in Atlanta, our defense was as good as it's been all year. A terrific defensive energy game, I thought that was a great statement by our players to each other, to themselves, in the [Atlanta] game the other night. That's how they have to be. Whether they can do that every night, we'll see, but that's the level of defense that we can play. We scored 39 points in the first quarter and, in some ways, everyone got lost in the point-scoring."
Rondo's absence means rookie guard Avery Bradley is active again after logging his first NBA floor time Monday in Atlanta. Bradley said a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders, but he's eager to see his first action at the Garden.
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.