BOSTON - It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that not having a player Rajon Rondo will usually have a negative impact on your team. Such was the case for the Boston Celtics, who fell to the Phoenix Suns on Friday without Rondo.
Rondo, who is recovering from a sore right wrist suffered on Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors, was replaced in the starting lineup by second-year guard Avery Bradley, who finished with 10 points and one assist in 33 minutes.
"I felt comfortable starting the game," said Bradley, who made his first career start Friday night. "I thought I would be nervous but I wasn't, because of my teammates. I thought we executed but sometimes we didn't. We'll fix it."
Bradley started the game on a shaky note, missing two wide open jumpers and missing a feed from Paul Pierce while heading to the basket. Bradley got his act together, though, and finished 5-of-9 from the floor and also had four boards.
"He did a good job," Suns guard Steve Nash (11 points, nine assists) said about Bradley. "He hustled defensively and made a few shots so he's learning and he's a young player so it's great experience for him."
Even though Bradley did recover, there's no beating around the bush: Rondo was missed. Pierce noted that the pace of the game was a lot slower, which in turn led to less shot creation for the Celtics.
"Definitely the pace was a lot slower," said Pierce. "He creates so much for our offense. He's our floor general. A lot of things we do go through him. So we just tried to change up some things, you know we had Avery Bradley out there, but it was valuable experience for him out there tonight to be able to go out there and play the minutes he played tonight."
Pierce wasn't the only one who noticed a difference. Nash certainly took notice as well.
"With him out of the line up its going to change the team," Nash said. "I think Rondo makes the court open up, puts pressure on the defense and tonight we could close down the court and take away their space."
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers didn't offer any new information on Rondo's condition prior to the game, saying that the decision for Rondo not to play came on Thursday night. Boston next plays the Wizards on Sunday.
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