BOSTON — While saying he does not expect Rajon Rondo to play Wednesday in the second leg of a back-to-back, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens acknowledged that the point guard ultimately has a major word in whether he plays in such games.
“It’s really more how he feels after a game,” Stevens said prior to the Celtics’ matchup with the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. “He’s still a little bit sore the day after games. Obviously, when we have these 48 hours, instead of 24 hours, he can recover and just have another day to get his body right. That’s at least the thought, but it’ll be more his call than anybody else’s. He knows his body better than any of us.”
Rondo has suited up for 17 games this season after missing nearly a year with a torn ACL in his right knee. Since his return Jan. 17, he has sat out five games, four of which were the team’s second game in two days. The Celtics host the New York Knicks at Wednesday after a road game against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.
Although his minutes continue to creep upward, Rondo and the Celtics have played it safe with his minutes, given the lack of urgency for the rebuilding club. While Rondo, who wasn’t available for questions before Sunday’s game, has averaged 9.8 assists per game over his last seven appearances, Stevens said he also keeps a close eye on Rondo’s play at the defensive end.
“It’s gotten a lot better in the last week, and I think it goes to conditioning, continuing to get his legs underneath him,” Stevens said. “Even when he’s playing more minutes, that’s more minutes where he’s playing tired, early on his comeback from a torn ACL. I thought he did a really good job the other night. In this league, at his position, he’s going to get tested.”
Rondo has averaged 12.2 points and 8.2 assists per game this season in 17 games, all starts, but he has shot a career-low 40.5 percent from the field.