BOSTON -- Emerging from the trainer's room more than an hour after Boston completed its 110-105 overtime triumph over the Chicago Bulls Friday at the TD Garden, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo downplayed the severity of his "sore" feet, stressing he's fine after coach Doc Rivers suggested he had a "mild" case of plantar fasciitis that nearly prevented Rondo from suiting up.
"It's fine," said Rondo, who only shrugged when asked to confirm the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. "It's cool. It's sore, that's all."
It wasn't so cool Friday morning, when team trainer Ed Lacerte advised Rivers that Rondo should skip Friday's game in lieu of rest. But when Rivers approached Rondo soon after, he brushed off the diagnosis and said he was playing.
"Listen, this morning, Eddie told me that Rondo wasn’t playing because of his foot," said Rivers. "And 10 minutes later, I go down so we can watch film and Rondo said, ‘I’m playing; I’m fine.'"
Rivers said before Friday's game that Rondo would be on a short leash and the first sign of soreness would result in him being yanked. The Celtics did just that, pulling Rondo earlier than usual in the first quarter, but he ultimately played 40 minutes, 13 seconds overall.
Rondo contributed 10 points and 11 assists, while also providing some key defense, including a late-game strip of Derrick Rose that prevented the Bulls from getting off a potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation.
"The only thing we did, and you could tell, we subbed him early," said Rivers. "I think with five or six minutes [left] in the first [quarter] we subbed him. And then we did it again [after] halftime. And, overall, that may have helped him with his wind."
Rondo's feet became a concern after Wednesday's win over the Bucks when Rivers indicated his point guard's feet were so sore he couldn't carry the ball up the court on consecutive possessions. Rondo suggested after Friday's game that the soreness developed over time and, while the only true way to heal is rest, he doesn't plan to miss any time because of the injury.
"I was able to tolerate it tonight," said Rondo, who got treatment and a massage after the game. "We're just taking precautions, that's all."
But the most telling statement from Rondo might have come when asked about his matchup with Derrick Rose, a monster story line before any meeting between the two teams. It's clear Rondo didn't want to take a backseat Friday.
"It's going to take a lot to keep me out of these type of matchups," admitted Rondo. "I like competing, especially against guys like Derrick."
Rose was one of the members of a Team USA squad that won gold at the 2010 FIBA World Championships after Rondo voluntarily departed the team before the start of the tournament. Rondo seems to have something to prove against guards that were ahead of him on the depth chart for Team USA and that would include Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, who he'll be matched up with Sunday if he's able to play against the Thunder.
"They get fired up for each other, I’m sure," Rivers said of the Rondo-Rose matchup. "That’s human nature. And it doesn’t get any easier; We play a pretty good guard [Westbrook] in the next game [Sunday vs. the Thunder] as well. But it’s good. They’re both sensational.”
If those guards weren't sensational, Rondo's plantar fasciitis might seem a lot more severe than he's letting on.