AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo didn't want to leave the court Wednesday vs. Atlanta.A handful of leftover notes and observations after the Boston Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks in overtime Wednesday night at TD Garden:
* A non-national TV triple-double?: We all know that Rajon Rondo breaks out some of his biggest games on the national spotlight. In fact, his 10-point, 20-assist, 10-rebound effort Wednesday night was one of only five non-national TV triple-doubles of the 19 he now owns for his career. But you could put an asterisk on this one. The Celtics-Hawks game was originally pegged as an ESPN matchup before being flexed out for the Knicks-Bucks last month.
* Ain't no rest for the wicked: Maybe the most impressive number in Rondo's box score Wednesday was the minutes: 47. Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't want to run his point guard into the ground, particularly with the team playing five games in six nights, but Thursday's offday afforded them a little bit of protection. "Rondo was sensational; he didn’t want to come out," explained Rivers. "He said, ‘Because we’ve got tomorrow off, let me just go.’ Atlanta, they’re one of the few teams that pressure our guards when Rondo’s off the floor and that clearly affected us." Said Rondo of his marathon night: "I don’t want to be selfish, because if I’m out there tired, I’m not doing what’s best for the team. But at the same time, I want to win." Rondo finished 3 of 16 shooting from the floor and struggled with his shot, but his all-around effort was the primary reason Boston won the game.
* That was the worst...: When you win a game in which you think the whistles are biased against you, it allows you to laugh off those calls afterwards. Which is exactly what Rivers did. Arriving at his postgame press conference, Rivers opened with, "I gotta tell you guys, that was the worst game [slight dramatic pause] we’ve ever won." Rivers then laughed, knowing reporters expected him to vent about the late-game officiating. "And you thought I’d say something else," he chuckled. The Celtics watched both Kevin Garnett and Greg Stiemsma foul out in overtime and were in a bit of a lather over all the amount of offensive foul calls that went against them in the extra session.
* KG's not going there: Garnett was asked a fairly innocuous question about what it was like to have to watch the final 2:43 from the bench after fouling out in the extra session. "Different," he said with a wink, eliciting laughter from reporters. "Goodnight, y'all," he said and turned to depart the locker room but not before playfully announcing, "Did you see that [reporter] try to set me up?"
* Standings watch: An updated look at the Eastern Conference standings ...
The Celtics, Hawks, and Magic all have matching 34-24 records, which should make for some feverish scoreboard watching over the final eight games of the season. Boston is guaranteed no worse than the No. 4 seed if it wins the Atlantic Division -- a three-game cushion over Philadelphia should ensure that -- but the Celtics need to finish with an equal or better record than the No. 5 seed (likely Orlando or Atlanta) if it wants home-court advantage in the opening round of the postseason. The Celtics remain only two games back of Indiana for the No. 3 seed, but the Pacers have the easier schedule of the two the rest of the way. At the back end of the bracket, the Knicks might have protected their No. 8 seed with a monster win over Milwaukee on Wednesday.
* A sigh of relief with Bass: The Celtics dodged an injury scare when Brandon Bass was able to walk off a hyperextended left knee (even Rivers thought it was an ACL injury when he crumpled to the floor in overtime). But it's a friendly reminder that, despite how well Boston has played lately, winning 19 games in the second half of the season, health remains the No. 1 factor for their success. This team can simply not afford another injury, particularly to a depleted frontcourt.