After two playoff games, the Celtics' leading scorer is not Ray Allen or Paul Pierce, and their leading rebounder is not Kendrick Perkins. Rajon Rondo leads the Celtics not only in scoring and rebounding but also assists and steals.
After Rondo outdueled Chicago's Derrick Rose in a 118-115 Celtic win Monday night, though, there were questions about his status for Game 3 tomorrow because of a sprained right ankle.
"The swelling has gone down some, that's always a good sign," coach Doc Rivers said.
Rose, who had 36 points in the Bulls' overtime victory in Game 1, struggled in Game 2 after being charged with two early fouls.
"When you are in foul trouble, your timing and rhythm is wrong," Rivers said. "And I thought Rondo caused that by the speed of play. The biggest adjustment we made, we told Rondo we have another gear we can play in. We thought we can beat them down the floor, because they're pressing up front. They did a lot of trapping up front, and if we got over the top of them, we felt we could attack."
Rondo scored 29 points in Game 1 but Rivers rated his overall game better in Game 2 (19 points, 12 rebounds, 16 assists, 5 steals).
"Sixteen assists, that's a kid taking charge of his team and getting everybody involved," Rivers said.
Strength in reserves
After a half-hour film session at the Waltham practice facility, Tony Allen
and Stephon Marbury
worked on shooting drills yesterday. Both could have a prominent role in Chicago. Rivers said the Celtics' ability to survive a second-quarter Bulls run without Glen Davis
, Mikki Moore
(foul trouble), and Leon Powe
(left knee) was a key to victory. "You can look it a lot of ways," Rivers said. "We could easily be up, 2-0, or down, 2-0, right now. It's an even series and that's probably the way it should be. I thought they played better than us in Game 1 and we earned Game 2." Said Davis, "They win one game and they are feeling real good and they are probably feeling they can win at home. That's the confidence they have. Our confidence is high, too. We just won a game and we've got confidence going to their place, knowing we can win at their place. Mentally, that's their approach, so we've got to make sure we match their intensity level." Davis is shooting 50 percent and is third on the team in field goal attempts (36) in two games. "They want to put the ball in my hands - I wouldn't do that if I was them, because I know what kind of player I am," Davis said. "I feel capable enough to make big shots and to put my teammates in great situations where they can hit shots." . . . President of basketball operations Danny Ainge
, who had heart surgery last Thursday, met with the team briefly yesterday. Ainge could be cleared to attend Game 5 in Boston next Tuesday.
Poor board scores
The day after coming home finding themselves even with the Celtics, the younger Bulls said they are pleased with the pace of the games, but to stay in the series, they know they have to take care of business under the boards. Coach Vinny Del Negro
was still smarting about the 50-36 overall rebounding edge the Celtics enjoyed Monday night, which led to a 32-12 advantage in second-chance points. "I like the tempo, but I didn't like the second-chance points and the rebounding," Del Negro said. "We have to do a better job in there. It's not just the big guys. The guards have to get in there and get long rebounds."
Globe correspondent Daniel I. Dorfman contributed to this report from Deerfield, Ill.
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