While they've had success in previous years, the Boston Celtics haven't been the same team this season without their All-Star point guard.
That's the challenge facing the Celtics in the next two games, starting on Friday night when they host the scuffling Portland Trail Blazers without Rajon Rondo.
Rondo was suspended for two games after starting a skirmish that sent players sprawling into the seats in a 95-83 loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday night.
Rondo, averaging 12.9 points and a league-leading 12.9 assists, will miss both Friday's game and Sunday's contest at Milwaukee.
The ban, though, might be coming at a good time. The Celtics (8-7) have won five in a row against the Blazers, including eight straight in Boston dating back to Portland's last win there in 2003-04.
Still, Rondo's second-quarter ejection ended his streak of 37 consecutive games with double-digit assists, which ties him with John Stockton for the second-longest in NBA history.
"I play the game the right way. I...