BOSTON -- Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo logged a season-high 36 minutes, 33 seconds of floor time during Sunday's 102-91 loss to the Dallas Mavericks and, in doing so, essentially bid farewell to the minute restriction that's been in place since his return last month.
The Celtics will still tread cautiously with Rondo, including a plan to sit him out of Monday's game in Milwaukee on the tail end of a back-to-back, but coach Brad Stevens said he believes Rondo will soon be operating without any restrictions.
“Time limit’s off," said Stevens. "Not playing in the back-to-back [versus Milwaukee], probably will be cleared to play in back-to-backs again very soon... that’s sooner rather than later, but no [playing] time issues."
For the third time in as many outings, Rondo flirted with a triple-double, putting up 15 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds during Sunday's loss. More encouraging were the long bursts that he was able to play, including the final 9:52 of the game as Boston showed some life that was missing in the third quarter when the game slipped away.
For his part, Rondo said he doesn't plan to push 40+ minutes any time soon, but admitted his body is now capable of handling the increased workload after starting in the 18-20 minute range initially and building since then.
"I wouldn’t say [the minute restriction is] completely off. I won’t be playing 40 [minutes]," said Rondo. "But when I’m out there and my adrenaline is going, I feel fine."
As for his desire to play in back-to-backs, Rondo isn't rushing the process, particularly since Boston only has one other set of back-to-backs later this month.
"Each game is different," he said. "I try to listen to my body as much as possible and go from there."
Rondo reached an individual milestone in Sunday's loss, handing out his 4,000th career assist with a dish to Kris Humphries in the first half. Rondo remains sixth all-time in team history in total assists, sitting behind Bob Cousy (6,945), John Havlicek (6,114), Larry Bird (5,695), Paul Pierce (4,305), and Bill Russell (4,100). There's a chance he'll surge into the top five this season with Pierce and Russell in striking distance.
"It’s definitely an honor, especially to have so many [great players in] this organization," said Rondo. "But for the most part, goals like that come across you when you try to work hard and do what’s best for the team."
Rondo added: "I’ve played with some great players. I give them all the credit. They’ve got to make the basket."