Celtics Notebook

Signs should point to All-Star nod

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / December 18, 2009

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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.’’

Davis making progress
Glen Davis exposed his scarred right hand and moved the thumb he broke in an altercation with a friend Oct. 26. It’s the most significant sign of progress he’s shown since requiring surgery. Davis will travel with the team on its upcoming four-game trip - Orlando, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State, Phoenix - and could make his season debut in the next two weeks.

“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.’’

Iverson won’t play
The Sixers’ Iverson was ruled out of tonight’s game at TD Garden with a shoulder contusion and arthritic knee. Iverson, who briefly retired after a failed experiment with the Grizzlies, is averaging 15.6 points, 4.2 assists, and 3.6 rebounds in five games this season with Philadelphia.

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.

Firsthand account
Marquis Daniels, sporting a hard cast around his surgically repaired left thumb, will have it examined today, after which the team should have a better gauge on a return date. Daniels said yesterday that Rivers pulled him out of practice last week to have the thumb or he would have continued playing . . . Rivers said rookie guard Lester Hudson will return from his stint with Maine in the Development League and be available for Sunday’s game against Minnesota. Hudson scored 25 points in his debut Wednesday against Erie.

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