Originally written on Celtics Town  |  Last updated 4/30/12

For a long time yesterday, the Celtics played about as badly as they could. Kevin Garnett couldn’t hit the ocean if he were throwing an anchor off the side of a boat during the first half. Paul Pierce, ditto, and his struggles continued into half two. Brandon Bass didn’t even take a shot for what seemed like forever, the bench combined for four points in 51 minutes, and the poor-rebounding Hawks managed a 50-41 advantage on the boards. Avery Bradley shot four of 12, the Celtics shot 39 percent and mother-flipping Jeff Teague and Kirk Hinrich seemed to always drill three-pointers whenever the Hawks needed one.

Somewhere much better than all that bad hovered Rajon Rondo, at least until he lost his composure with 41 seconds remaining in a game that was still in doubt. Now Boston’s lead guard faces a possible suspension for Game 2, dependent on whether the NBA finds his actions purposeful. (WEEI)

The NBA rulebook is clear, except for one key, subjective word: Intentional.

“Any player or coach guilty of intentional physical contact with an official shall automatically be suspended without pay for one game. A fine and/or longer period of suspension will result if circumstances so dictate.”

There’s a chance the NBA finds that Rondo tripped and the contact with Davis was incidental. Rondo said he felt he tripped on Davis’ shoe, and the video supports that. Rondo also didn’t make any effort NOT to hit Davis, but hey, shh, I never said that. Regardless of whether Rondo suits up Tuesday night, his technical fouls were inexcusable.

I get why Rondo reacted so strongly. The Celtics were trying to stage a desperate comeback, just 41 seconds remained in the game, they still trailed by four points, they badly needed to corral possession, and with three frigging seconds on the shot clock and the Hawks nowhere close to a shot attempt, referee Marc Davis called a loose-ball foul on Brandon Bass, who incidentally made contact with Josh Smith, who was writhing on the ground like a dog trying to get rid of fleas on its back. I get why Rondo lost his cool. I would have been pissed too. But with 41 seconds remaining, Rondo should have taken advice from Frank Ricard and kept his composure.

The Celtics could have had a chance to win last night. Instead, they enter Game 2 not knowing if they’ll have their star point guard in the lineup.  Thanks to 24 minutes of barely resembling the Celtics and one moment of lost cool, the Celtics could face an 0-2 deficit after Tuesday. That, or they’ll win Game 2 and Rondo’s moment of stupidity will become barely more than a footnote in this series.

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