Rajon Rondo hopes the camera won’t catch him if he gets too emotional back on the parquet floor, though he already plans to raise his eyes and blink a lot to mask the tears.
In his first visit to Boston since last month’s blockbuster trade, the All-Star point guard will try to help the Dallas Mavericks capture their fourth straight victory Friday night against the Celtics.
"It’s like a family reunion," Rondo said. "I’m hoping not to be too emotional. I’ll try not to cry a little bit, but I’m very excited to go back. Those fans are amazing."
Dallas (23-10) believed it had found a missing piece to its first championship run in four years Dec. 19 when it acquired Rondo and Dwight Powell for Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson and two draft picks.
Rondo has since embraced the opportunity to chase another ring after leaving the rebuilding effort in Boston. The veteran won his first title in 2008 with the Celtics and developed into one of the league’s top playmakers over his eight-plus seasons.
"I think (my role) is a little bit different now," he said. "Since I’m a veteran, I think I have a little bit more responsibility than I did in the past. This year is different. (But) the expectations are just as high."
Rondo ranks third in the league with 10.1 assists per game, but he’s averaged 7.8 while taking on more of a scoring role since joining the Mavericks. He’s scoring 13.2 per game in his past six after averaging almost five points fewer in 22 with Boston.
After losing two of three following the trade, the Mavericks concluded a sweep of their three-game homestand with Tuesday’s 114-87 win over Washington. They matched a season low with seven turnovers while forcing 23.
Now they’re set to visit Cleveland and Brooklyn on a three-game trip that opens against the Celtics (11-18).
"I believe I’m going to get a great reception," Rondo said. "I gave it my all every time I went on the floor and played as a Celtic. It was a great opportunity to play for one of the best organizations in sports history."
Dirk Nowitzki, who had 13 points Tuesday, scored 27 in a 118-113 home win over the Celtics on Nov. 3 for the Mavericks’ eighth victory in nine meetings. Chandler Parsons had a team-high 29 with four 3s in that contest and he’s scored a combined 40 while sinking 7 of 11 from beyond the arc in his last two overall.
Struggling to find Rondo’s replacement, the Celtics dropped four in a row before Wednesday’s 106-84 victory over visiting Sacramento. Evan Turner finished with 10 points and 11 assists after replacing Marcus Smart as the starting point guard.
"We’re still searching,” coach Brad Stevens said. ”We’ve got to stop searching soon. I’m hopeful it’ll be a good change.”
Jeff Green and Avery Bradley had season highs in the first matchup with 35 and 32 points, respectively. Green, however, had six points while attempting only six shots Wednesday and Bradley has totaled 11 on 4-of-13 shooting in his last two.
The Celtics tightened things up defensively against the Kings, allowing a season-low point total and a 36.8 field-goal percentage. They had given up 105.0 per game on 49.7 percent shooting in their previous two.
Dallas should provide a difficult test after averaging 110.8 points with a 48.4 field-goal percentage in its last four games.