The aftermath of Wednesday night’s brawl with the Brooklyn Nets could be costly for the Celtics, who may lose Rajon Rondo for multiple games if the league office levies a suspension.
Rondo and Brooklyn’s Kris Humphries were the central figures in a fight that spilled into the stands under the east basket with 29.5 seconds left in the first half. The NBA frowns upon 1.) altercations that spread into the stands and 2.) actions by repeat offenders.
Rondo had been suspended twice by the league in the past 10 months, tossing a ball at an official last February in Detroit and making contact with an official during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs against the Hawks.
“Usually he goes after the refs, this time it was another guy, so that’s better I guess,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked. “I don’t know. I think Rondo’s emotional but I don’t think he’s any worse or better [than anyone else]. It’s a play that happened and he regrets it, I’m sure.”
Meanwhile, Celtics guard Jason Terry, who tried breaking up the fight before Rondo charged Humphries and the two tumbled into the stands, had some choice words for the Nets forward, whom he played with in Dallas.
“Some guys are tough, some guys pretend to be, he’s one of those that pretends to be, I played with him,” Terry said. “Maybe that’s the role [Brooklyn coach] Avery [Johnson ] wants him to have, but he could leave that to somebody else.”
When asked what type of player Humphries was in Dallas, Terry said, “soft.”
Rivers called the Celtics “soft” after the game for getting manhandled by the Nets in the paint.
“Well, Humphries might as well come play with us if that’s the case,” Terry said.
Rivers said he still has no idea when guard Avery Bradley will return from shoulder surgeries but he is participating in drills before practice and is taking shots before every game. But an NBA source said Bradley is “close” to returning to practice and it could be “any day.”
Bradley had the first procedure in June and the second in July. Rivers and the source said Bradley could play a few games in the NBADL to get some extra conditioning before making his return. Bradley last played in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the 76ers when a collision with Philadelphia center Lavoy Allen knocked his right shoulder out of place.
“All of it is unchartered waters for us,” Rivers said of Bradley in the NBADL. “It really depends on the timing of when he’s coming back. Something where he would stay. But there’s definitely a possibility.”
The days of the Celtics dominating the Atlantic Division may be over. They are in fourth place, 2½ games behind first-place Brooklyn, and already have dropped three games to the Nets and 76ers.
With the Nets retooling with Joe Johnson, re-signing Gerald Wallace and Deron Williams, and adding pieces such as Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche, they are a legitimate division contender.
“Honestly I don’t look at it, I really don’t,” Rivers said. “I know it’s a lot of good teams, Philly, Brooklyn, New York, everybody’s pretty good now. I honestly can’t tell you where anyone’s at. I never look. It’s not anything I’m really focused on.
“I watch everybody, I just don’t go watch [division opponents] though, I have my NBA package I pay for.”
Rivers has to play for the NBA League Pass?
“No, actually I don’t pay,” he said. “But I would, though. I just watch everybody. I tend to watch the East more than the West because that’s who we’re going to play more.”
Even though Fab Melo and Kris Joseph participated in practice Wednesday, they will remain playing for Maine in the NBADL. Joseph is leading Maine with 25.5 points per game through two games while Melo is averaging 8 points and 2.5 rebounds in two starts . . . Olympic gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman, a Needham native, was in attendance . . . There was a moment of silence before the game for Alexandra McHale, the 23-year-old daughter of Rockets coach and ex-Celtics great Kevin McHale, who died Saturday of lupus . . . The Nets won despite shooting 40.2 percent, missing 10 free throws, and committing 16 turnovers. Blatche collected 13 rebounds in just 29 minutes, eight of those on the offensive end.