The NBA announced Monday that the Boston Celtics’ star point guard has been suspended one game without pay in the opening-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.
Rondo will miss tonight’s contest in Atlanta after sticking out his chest to bump referee Marc Davis while disputing a foul call with 41 seconds left in Boston’s Game 1 loss.
The NBA’s assist leader scored 20 points and dished out 11 assists before he was tossed, leaving Boston with a huge hole in its lineup. This is Rondo’s second suspension of the season, after a two-game ban in February for throwing a ball at an official.
“That’s part of the package with our team. We’re a volatile team in a lot of ways,” coach Doc Rivers said during a practice at Georgia Tech. “Rondo is an emotional player. … I like his fire, but sometimes he burns you.”
Boston lost both games while Rondo was suspended. The team is 8-5 overall in games he missed this season.
“This is a resilient basketball team,” Rivers said. “That’s what we’ve been all year. Sometimes, it takes this stuff, for whatever reason, to snap us into playing the right way. I don’t know whether we’re going to win or lose, but I can guarantee you we’ll be ready to play.”
Rondo was about the only bright spot for Boston in the series opener. He was the lone player hitting consistently from the outside, knocking down 10 of 18 shots, and he did his usual superb job as a floor leader. It was his 24th consecutive game with double-figure assists, and he had just one turnover.
Then, with the Celtics having trimmed a 19-point deficit down to just four, Brandon Bass went to the court tussling for a loose ball with Atlanta’s Josh Smith. Boston thought it should’ve been a jump ball, but Davis called a foul on Bass. Rondo was outraged, screaming something that immediately drew a technical. Then, with Davis’ back turned, the guard jutted out his chest to make contact.
Davis signaled another technical and ejected Rondo. The Hawks held on for an 83-74 victory.
Atlanta won’t have to worry about Rondo at all in Game 2.
“Certainly it changes things a little bit but, with or without him, they’ve shown they can win,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “They are a veteran ballclub. They’ve been in those situations where they’ve had players out. Certainly whether he is there or not, we can’t let our guard down.”
Second-year player Avery Bradley, who has been starting at shooting guard for the Celtics, will likely shift over to the point to take Rondo’s place. The youngster had a rough playoff debut, getting into foul trouble and scoring just 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
“He pressed,” Rivers said. “When your mind gets too active, it’s usually hurts you. He was thinking about what he wanted to do instead of just allowing the game to dictate what he should do.”