Rajon Rondo will be sitting out with a two-game suspension as the Boston Celtics take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night in Boston, MA.
LIfe. It's a simple word and a thought that has prompted endless debate.
How did life begin on Earth? Is there life on Mars? We may never know.
What we wil know, as soon as Friday night, is if there's life after Rajon Rondo.
Rondo will have to sit out the Boston Celtics' next two games, starting with Friday night's home contest against the Portland Trail Blazers, thanks to his role in an altercation between the Celtics and Brooklyn Nets during Wednesday evening's home game.
After a hard foul delivered by Humphries to Rondo's teammate, Kevin Garnett, Rondo took offense and shoved Humphries, starting a brawl. Once both sides were separated and the situation cool, Rondo, Humphries and Gerald Wallace -- who got tangled up with Garnett -- were ejected.
The early exit for Rondo would bring his 37-game streak of double-digit assists to a screeching halt. Rondo spoke about his actions at Thursday's practice, insisting that he did not intend to start a riot and that he was simply sticking up for a teammate. While defending his brothers in arms is admirable, Rondo's actions were clearly unacceptable, and the league agreed.
Rondo will clearly be missed, and there's just no way to truly replace him. Rondo is the team's third-leading scorer (12.9 PPG) and led the team and the NBA in assists (12.9 PPG), and he runs an offense like no other. Nonetheless, the Celtics don't have a choice -- they'll have to adjust with No. 9 on the sidelines.
Boston has had to weather that situation once before, as a minor injury in mid-November kept Rondo sidelined. The result, as you might expect, did not favor the Celtics -- they fell, 102-97, to the Nets in Brooklyn. Leandro Barbosa performed admirably in Rondo's place, however, finishing with 17 points, two rebounds, two steals and two assists in 30 minutes.
With former sixth man of the year Jason Terry already in the starting lineup, it would appear likely that Barbosa will again get the nod to start for Rondo. Should head coach Doc Rivers want to go in another direction, he could have Terry start at point guard and Courtney Lee play at the two.
Normally, this would be an opportunity for third-year guard Avery Bradley to step up and flex his multitasking ability, but since he's still recovering from double shoulder surgery, the Celtics will be without his services under at least the middle of December.
Boston enters Friday's contest with an 8-7 record, placing it fourth in the Atlantic Division -- 2 1/2 games behind the division-leading New York Knicks. The Celtics have only one quality win on the season, a triumphant home win over Kevin Durant and the dangerous Oklahoma City Thunder, but have failed to display consistent play on both ends of the court.
Portland is in rebuilding mode this season, and the record shows it. The Trail Blazers are 6-9 -- dead last in the Pacific Division -- and are 4-6 in their last ten games. Despite the below average record, Portland has five impact players that can still hurt the Celtics, led by All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge (20.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG) and rookie guard Damian Lillard (19.1 PPG, 6.1 APG).
Boston and Portland tip off at 7:30 p.m. ET. The game will air on CSNNE/WEEI.
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