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January 16. 2014 9:29PM

Rondo will return Friday


Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens talks with point guard Rajon Rondo (9) during the second quarter of Wednesday's game. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will make his season debut tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers, team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed Thursday.

“Barring any setbacks, I think (Rondo is) planning on playing (Friday night),” Ainge said at the team’s practice facility.

Ainge was asked what he expects from Rondo, who has been out since Jan. 25, 2013 with a torn ACL in his right knee.

“I’m not sure. He hasn’t played for a year,” Ainge said. “What I’ve seen throughout my professional basketball career is that the ACL injury is something that every player has to overcome and coming back mentally, not just physically. I anticipate some adjustments and just getting used to playing and feeling confident and returning to the player that he was.

“And I think he will get there, and I don’t know how long it will take, if that means a week or a month or what. He has to get back out on the court and he has to try it, and now is as good a time as any.”

Rondo hinted at tonight’s return earlier this week on Twitter by offering the time (in seconds) between his surgery and Friday’s tipoff.

Rondo was on the bench in uniform Wednesday night for the first time this season when the Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors to snap a nine-game losing streak.

Both Ainge and Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Rondo will have a minutes restriction.

“I’m going to talk to him after practice, and the plan of attack will be he will play 18 to 20 minutes, and that would be a max,” Stevens said. “So then you decide how you want to disperse those and how you want to attack each portion of the game and all those things. So that’s what we’re going to talk about. Obviously, he is our starting point guard, so I want to make sure we figure out the right minutes for him so he doesn’t get too stiff on the bench and all that other stuff.

“Knowing Rondo, he’s going to be complaining about (a minutes restriction), probably checking himself back into the game, occasionally, because that’s who he is. But that’s the game plan.”

Rondo was briefly assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League on Wednesday before being called up a few hours later. It was mainly for workout purposes.


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