The Celtics are back in Boston, Rajon Rondo’s back from his suspension and Ray Allen could be back from an ankle injury. Friday night at the TD Garden, the Celtics host the Hawks in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series, which is tied at one game apiece.
Rondo will be in the Celtics starting lineup Friday after serving a one-game suspension for bumping a referee in the series opener in Atlanta. Before practice in Waltham Thursday, head coach Doc Rivers said Rondo’s return is getting a lot of attention, but he’s just hoping for a regular performance from his point guard.
“You want to make sure he doesn’t try to do too much, just do what he does," Rivers said. "Sometimes I think when guys miss a game they come out the next game and they really want to help the team instead of just playing your game.”
Rondo said he thanked his teammates for coming through with a win Tuesday. Asked if he felt like he has something to prove in Game 3, the guard bristled.
“I don’t have anything to prove," he replied. "Why would I have anything to prove? I just want to win. That’s it. I’m confused about why you guys would think I would have anything to prove. This is the game I’ve been playing my entire life. The world knows what I can do.”
In Game 2, the Celtics proved they could answer the Hawks’ swarming defense. Paul Pierce led all scorers with 36 points. Center Kevin Garnett delivered another steady performance. But the Big Three are still down a man … or more specifically an ankle. Ray Allen has been out since April 10, but he practiced yesterday and could return for Game 3 tonight. Allen says it’s been hard missing important games while his right ankle heals.
“You want to be there to help the team. My guys are looking at me saying, ‘He’s close.’ When you know you can’t play you almost feel like you’re letting the team down because they need you out there on the floor. So it’s been a range of emotion.”
The Hawks have injury concerns of their own. Atlanta forward Josh Smith is day-to-day after straining his left knee Tuesday. Doc Rivers says he’s expecting Smith to play and that’s one more reason to get Allen back as soon as possible. And Allen says he’ll do whatever takes to get back, but he’s staying away from home remedy tips … even from his mom.
“My mom, you know, her friends, everybody, ‘Did you get some red clay dirt and put it on your ankle?’ I’m like, ‘We have some of the best doctors in the world that I just got done looking at and then I come home and I’ve got to hear about red clay dirt.’ You get the emails and everybody sends suggestions and I appreciate it because everybody does want to see me get better.”
As Allen headed into an office at practice yesterday, he grabbed a ball and knocked down a jumper from half court with an easy flick of his wrist. Probably not the kind of shot Doc Rivers has been missing most, but a sign that Allen could be back shooting when it counts soon.
This program aired on May 4, 2012.