NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics drives for a shot attempt against Toney Douglas #23 of the New York Knicks in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Amid all the nonsense Reggie Miller gulped into his microphone last night was one pretty rudimentary observation that I hadn't picked up before: In terms of point guard competition, this back-to-back-to-back for the Knicks is a real doozy. Iman Shumpert and Toney Douglas got scorched by Derrick Rose last night, and they've got Deron Williams in the building on Saturday. The only uncertainty was whether or not the meat of the elite point guard sandwich, Boston's Rajon Rondo, would return from his wrist injury in time for the Knicks' visit. The reports from Boston suggest that he probably will. NECN.com's A. Sherrod Blakely:
While there's still no official word yet, all indications are that Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will return to the Celtics' lineup tonight against the New York Knicks.
Rondo, who has missed the last eight games with a right wrist injury, was an active participant in the team's morning shootaround.
Earlier this week, coach Doc Rivers said tonight's game was a likely target date for the two-time all-star to return to action.
Not cool, Celtics. The Knicks have pretty consistently failed to contain Rondo since he's been in the league, and both Shump and Toney (recall that Shump got hurt) struggled against him on Christmas, if I remember correctly. Douglas obviously has more experience (a whole miserable playoff series) guarding Rondo and, to my eye, did a slightly better job on Rose last night. Another thing that D'Antoni tried last night-- with some success-- was doubling the ball-handler early and far from the basket with Jared Jeffries and his quiver of limbs. That might be a dicier prospect against Boston, given that Rondo's a craftier passer (especially under duress) than Rose is and Boston has sharper folks playing off the ball than the short-handed Bulls did last night.
Another thing I'd like to see from Shumpert in particular is a focus on getting to the rim. He's considerably bigger than Rondo and should be able to score over him and/or rope him into fouls. That said, Shump hasn't been quite as basket-oriented as you'd hope so far this season. It'd be a welcome change, especially tonight.
Anyway, it'll be a challenge with or without Rondo. They've let him go off (31 and 13, in case you forgot) and come away with a win anyway already, but he remains enemy number one and the key to the Knicks' chances against Boston. Ya know, if he plays and stuff.
Update: A Twitter friend points out something I forgot to mention: The Celtics have gotten into quite a groove without Rondo. Maybe his return will disrupt their sick flow!?!?!