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Rajon Rondo is back to his old self

Rajon Rondo passed the all past Brooklyn’s Bojan Bogdanovic during Wednesday’s opener.Winslow Townson-USA TODAY

You would need a crystal ball, not a basketball, to know how this season is going to end for Rajon Rondo and the Celtics.

Their future together is murky with Rondo set to be an in-demand free agent and the Celtics undertaking a franchise restoration project with an uncertain completion date.

How it ends we don't know. But it was a beautiful beginning for the Celtics and their inscrutably brilliant point guard on Wednesday night in Game No. 1 of 82.

Rondo was on the court directing the action like it was his own personal screenplay, the Celtics were running old friend Kevin Garnett and the Brooklyn Nets out of the building and the imaginations of the Parishioners of the Parquet could run wild with the idea of this upstart team surprising the basketball cognoscenti.


The Celtics should bottle this 121-105 victory for those stark winter nights when wins might be a little tougher to come by and the Rondo trade rumors are percolating like Starbucks lattes.

Playing with a black protective wrap on his fractured left hand, which was surgically repaired Sept. 26, Rondo finished with a quintessentially Rondo evening — 13 points, 12 assists, and 7 rebounds, making 6 of 9 shots. But his impact went beyond numbers, as he picked apart the Nets defense with surgical precision, orchestrating a Celtics' offense that scored 62 points in the paint, many on layups and dunks.

"You have a leader that is commanding guys, telling them where to go, and just making the game easier for other people," said Celtics center Kelly Olynyk, who had a team-high 19 points. "That's what it boils down to. If you can make the game easier for other people and make your teammates look good then everything works together."

Rondo spent the final 4 minutes 40 seconds of the game where most people thought he would be for the entire contest back in September, when he suffered a metacarpal fracture in his left hand after he slipped in the shower at his home. The original timetable for his return was six to eight weeks after the surgery.


But Rondo had taken contact since last Thursday and was coyly hinting that he would play in the season opener, using random percentages.

There was a zero percent chance of Rondo missing the opener in a season that could determine his basketball future.

Rondo said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has challenged him to be at his best this season. The inimitable floor general also said he was motivated by watching Spurs point guard Tony Parker in the NBA Finals.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens announced at about 5:45 p.m. that Rondo would play. This was less surprising than Tommy Heinsohn lamenting the officiating.

Rondo addressed the crowd pregame, welcoming them to the season opener and telling them to enjoy themselves and drive home safely.

Some of the Garden crowd could take off early thanks to Rondo and a Celtics club that put eight players in double figures, shot 55.7 percent from the field and led, 101-72, after three quarters.

Olynyk hit a baseline turnaround jumper at the third-quarter buzzer to put the Celtics over the century mark. The fourth quarter was academic.

Rondo, who had 2 points in the first half, scored 9 consecutive points in the third to give them an 84-60 lead with 5:24 left in the third quarter.


He hit a patented rafter-scraping floater off the glass, a step-back dribble drive, a pull-up jumper and capped the barrage by banking in a 3-pointer that gave him a double-double on the night.

"I didn't try to let [my hand] affect anything I did. I still put the ball in my left hand," said Rondo. "I've been playing with the wrap on my hand for the last two weeks trying to see how I feel when I pass the ball and make dribble moves to the hoop. I felt pretty comfortable with it on out there today."

KG said it was classic Rondo, the Rondo who roamed the Garden and fueled endless barbershop debates about ranking the best point guards in the NBA. It was a Rondo that Stevens never had at his disposal last year, as Rondo felt his way back from the ACL tear he suffered in 2013.

It's the Rondo the Celtics will need if they're going to spend May in the playoffs instead of counting ping-pong balls.

"I thought the last couple days he looks like himself. He kind of looks like what I'd seen on film before I got here," said Stevens. "I don't think he ever looked like that at any time last year, because he was coming back. And that's just the way it goes with that injury. But he is back to full speed."

It was a little tough to tell how much of the performance by Rondo and the new-look Celtics — rookie Marcus Smart played drool-worthy defense and veterans Evan Turner and Marcus Thornton each scored 10 points — was about the bonding of the Green and how much was about the lackadaisical defense of the Nets, who created a red carpet to the rim for the Celtics.


The Celtics' first three baskets of the second quarter were all dunks or layups, including Rondo dropping off a pretty lay-down for Tyler Zeller.

That made it 38-26 with 9:49 left in the first half and forced Nets coach Lionel Hollins to call a timeout to stop the layup line.

Of course right out of the timeout, Celtics rookie Smart got a steal and coasted to a breakaway dunk.

"They had 62 points in the paint and most of them were non-contested," said Hollins.

With Rondo lending a helping hand and putting his fingerprints on the floor, the game was no contest.


  Kelly Olynyk leads Celtics to a rout of Nets

 On Basketball: Kevin Garnett comfortable coming 'home' to Boston

 Photos: Celtics open season at TD Garden

 Notebook: Easy decision for Rajon Rondo to play

Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @cgasper.