The feeling in the Boston Celtics’ locker room regarding Rajon Rondo‘s return to action has shifted from speculation to anticipation.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich that all signs point to Rondo returning to the lineup when the team hosts the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
“He had a very good, strenuous workout yesterday as sort of a final test,” Ainge said. “Unless there are any setbacks today, we anticipate him playing [Friday].”
Rondo, who practiced with the Celtics’ D-League affiliate Wednesday and warmed up with the team before Boston’s 88-83 win over the Toronto Raptors, has not played since tearing his ACL on Jan. 25, 2013. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said after Wednesday’s win that if Rondo does return to the lineup against the Lakers, it will be only in a limited role.
“If he comes back Friday, he’s only going to play 18 to 20 minutes,” Stevens said. “And he’s coming back and playing for the first time in a year, so for any of us to expect him to be [in] playoff form is not fair to him. That being said, I think his energy and his leadership will lift our team. But I don’t think we should put too much on his shoulders anyways.”
The Celtics had just 10 available players for their game against the Raptors after dealing guards Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Golden State Warriors in a three-team trade earlier in the day. Rookie point guard Phil Pressey played well in his first career start, finishing with 10 assists and no turnovers as the Celtics snapped their nine-game losing streak.