BOSTON — Time is back on Rajon Rondo’s side after being his enemy for most of the last month.
With the Boston Celtics trailing by 20 points, it was a bit of a surprise to see Rondo stroll onto the court early in the fourth quarter on Sunday. He had already logged close to 27 minutes, and coach Brad Stevens has been hesitant to play his point guard more than 30 minutes in a game.
But in Rondo came, and there he stayed.
Rondo ended up logging 36 minutes, 33 seconds of court time on Sunday, playing the final 9:52 of the Celtics’ 102-91 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. He blew away his previous high of 32 minutes in last week’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers while totaling 15 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds.
Afterward, Stevens disclosed that Rondo’s minutes restriction hasn’t just been relaxed. It’s been nixed altogether.
“Time limit’s off, yeah,” Stevens said. “Still not playing back-to-backs, probably will be cleared to play in back-to-backs again very soon. I asked the question right after we met prior to the game and it sounds like, again, that’s sooner rather than later, but no time issues.”
Rondo’s not completely restriction-free yet. He still won’t play in the second game of back-to-backs, as Stevens mentioned, as he works his way back from a torn right anterior cruciate ligament that sidelined him for nearly a year. The Celtics will hold him out of Monday’s game in Milwaukee, but expect him to play Wednesday at home against the San Antonio Spurs.
“I wouldn’t say completely off,” Rondo told reporters. “I won’t be playing 40. But when I’m out there and my adrenaline is going, I’m fine.”
Rondo has played in nine games this season, averaging 9.1 points and 7.4 assists in 27 minutes per game. He was inactive for three of Boston’s previous eight games before Sunday night, with two of those games coming at the end of back-to-back sets.