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With the Celtics miraculously back within four points with 41 seconds to play in Sunday’s Game 1, Rondo objected strongly to referee Marc Davis’s foul call on Brandon Bass during a scrum for a loose ball. Davis assessed him with a technical foul for arguing so demonstratively, then ejected Rondo from the game after he bumped the referee with his chest. The Atlanta Hawks went on to win, 83-74.
According to the NBA rule book, ”Any player or coach guilty of intentional physical contact with an official shall automatically be suspended without pay for one game,” so the suspension was no real surprise.
Celtics fans had been praying that the NBA league office would interpret the contact as incidental from Rondo losing his balance when he tripped over Bass and Davis’ foot. But between the slight protrusion of Rondo’s chest at the end of the play and an earlier incident this season when Rondo threw a basketball at a referee, his fate may have already been sealed in the eyes of Commissioner David Stern.
Now the Celtics will have to try to win Game 2 and avoid a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven series without their starting point guard and offensive spark plug. Unless Ray Allen is suddenly healthy enough to play on Tuesday night, Celtics fans can expect to see Keyon Dooling or (gulp!) Sasha Pavlovic in the starting lineup, with a healthy dose of Paul Pierce acting as point forward to initiate the offense.
Here’s hoping the Celtics can steal Game 5 in Atlanta.