Jan 15, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Phil Pressey (26) controls the ball on a fast break during the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Rondo Returns! Boston Celtics - Los Angeles Lakers: Preview

Boston Celtics fans, it’s time.

Dec 31, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics point injured guard Rajon Rondo (9) dribbles before their game against the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Months of waiting for the return of All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo will mercifully come to an end tonight, right around 7:30 p.m., as the Celtics welcome both Rondo and the Los Angeles Lakers to the TD Garden for the first time this season.

Clearly, the majority of us will be paying far more attention to how Rondo looks, and how much rust is evident in his game, than to the actual game itself, since it is pretty apparent that the Celtics franchise is not concerned about reaching the playoffs this season.  That reality makes tonight’s win or loss infinitely less important than whether Rondo will be able to ever return to the level that he was playing at before he suffered an ACL tear last season.

Still, it is the Los Angeles Lakers we’re talking about, and I’m always up for seeing the Cs “Beat L.A.!” so here are a few keys to tonight’s game:

1. Attack the rim all night long.

I hate to see the Celtics settle for mid- or long-range Js, specifically players such as Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger.  Green is athletic enough he can slice through defenders and get to the rim or get fouled in the process.  Meanwhile, Sullinger showed us the kind of player he can be Wednesday night against the Raptors, scoring 25 points and grabbing 20 rebounds, including 8 on the offensive glass.  I know Sully likes to shoot the 3 from time to time, but as Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said,

We’re having trouble keeping up with athleticism in the open court and at the rim.  Defensively we have a hard time stopping people at the rim.

To me, that’s just an invitation for Sully and Green to get into the paint and attack, attack, attack the rim all night long.

2. Turn the game into a track meet.

As you read in the quotation above, the Lakers are struggling to stop athletic teams in the open court.  The Lakers have lost 12 of their last 13 games, with matching six-game losing streaks, and are giving up 120.7 points per game during their current six game losing streak.  Add to this the fact that LA will be without its leading scorer Nick Young tonight, who is serving a one-game suspension after throwing a punch during the Lakers loss to Phoenix Wednesday night, and you have your recipe for success: run, score a lot of points, and watch the Lakers struggle to keep pace.

Tonight’s game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30, so follow me on Twitter @HoudiniCeltics and @theamazingMrS, and get ready for the return of Rajon Rondo.  It’s going to be electric, so don’t miss it!

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