Signs should point to All-Star nod
Rajon Rondo trails Miami’s Dwyane Wade by more than 500,000 votes, so there is no chance he will be elected a starter for the Feb. 14 All-Star Game in Dallas. That doesn’t mean, however, that Rondo hasn’t been the best point guard in the Eastern Conference.
Coaches vote for the All-Star reserves and Rondo’s value to the Celtics is unquestioned around the league.
Wade and Vince Carter are leading the early voting among East guards, so they are expected to be the starters, but neither is a point guard. Rondo leads the Eastern Conference in assists, averaging 9.5 per game, while LeBron James is second at 8.0.
Among guards, Washington’s Gilbert Arenas is next with 6.9 assists per game. Arenas may be Rondo’s stiffest competition for All-Star honors, but he is shooting just 40 percent from the field and is having a subpar season after missing most of the last two years recovering from knee surgery.
Rondo is eighth among guards in the Eastern Conference in scoring at 12 points per game, but is first in shooting percentage (.535). Obviously, with the presence of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, Rondo is not a primary scorer, but his assist numbers, gaudy field goal percentage, and rebounding (4.1 per game) bode well for his chances.
“He means so much to this ball club for what he brings,’’ Pierce said. “In my eyes, being one of the better teams, I think our starting five should be in the All-Star Game, truthfully. But he has emerged as the best or one of the best point guards in the East.’’
In the first voting results, however, released Dec. 10, Rondo was eighth among East guards, also trailing Allen, Arenas, Allen Iverson, Derrick Rose, and Joe Johnson. The starters will be announced Jan. 21 and reserves a week later.
Rondo signed a $55 million contract extension early last month, and he says it has helped him concentrate on on-court matters.
“I’m sleeping better, I will say that,’’ he said. “I wasn’t stressed at the time the deal was trying to get done. I was fine with playing it out. I’m very comfortable with how I play. It wasn’t an issue. It definitely takes a lot off your shoulders. I’m happy being here. I love being a Celtic.’’
“I’m kind of timid a little bit because I don’t want to re-hurt it,’’ he said. “[Next week] I’ll have a little bit more range of motion and it’s just a process of confidence, healing, making sure I get into the flow of the game.’’
Coach Doc Rivers is giving the impression that Davis will have to work feverishly to get back into his good graces following the irresponsible injury. Davis was fined by the Celtics but not suspended.
“We’re looking forward to him coming out, I think it will be great for him, No. 1 just to be back with the team,’’ Rivers said. “We’re not going to rush it, no matter what. I think there’s always something to prove. He hasn’t proven enough yet to have nothing to prove.’’
Said Pierce, “It would have been a great buzz in the building, but we still got to show up and play, too.’’
One player who will be in action is Sixers power forward Marreese Speights, who made his first appearance Wednesday since suffering a torn medial collateral ligament Nov. 14, scoring 14 points in 22 minutes in a 108-101 loss to Cleveland.