WASHINGTON — As a precautionary measure, the Celtics rested point guard Rajon Rondo for Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards because it was the second of a back-to-back set.
Rondo, who is easing his way back into the lineup after missing nearly a year following a knee injury, played about 25 minutes Tuesday in the Celtics’ loss to the Miami Heat, his most time in the three games since returning to the court.
But it wasn’t a certainty then that he would play the following day.
“It was more about, let’s make sure, again, to be very, very smart about this,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before Wednesday’s game.
Stevens added that in the preseason, they didn’t play Gerald Wallace in the second game of back-to-backs, and that “this is Rondo’s preseason right now. Not fair to him that it happens in the middle of January, but that’s the way it goes.”
In addition to Rondo, the Celtics were also without the other half of their starting backcourt, Avery Bradley, who suffered a sprained right ankle against the Heat.
Bradley, who wore a boot on that foot and was on crutches as he entered the Verizon Center, is expected to miss up to two weeks with the injury.
“Everything I’ve been told, it’s a sprain, but as we saw with Kelly’s sprain, those can be significant,” said Stevens, referencing how Kelly Olynyk missed 10 games with a sprain earlier this season.
The Celtics were also without reserve guard Jerryd Bayless, who suffered a sprained left big toe Sunday against Orlando.
Stevens said Bayless will be day-to-day starting Friday, when the Celtics play Oklahoma City at TD Garden.
With such a thin backcourt, the Celtics brought in a reinforcement by signing guard Vander Blue to a 10-day contract.
Blue drove from Delaware, where he was playing with the NBA Development League’s Delaware 87ers, and joined the team here Wednesday morning.
“I was really excited about the opportunity to come here and be able to play for such a great organization and to make my dream come true,” Blue said. “I just thank God for everything he’s done for me. I’m ready to get to work now. “
Blue, a 6-foot-5-inch former Marquette standout who went undrafted in 2013, played in four games with the 87ers this season, averaging 19.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 30.5 minutes per game.
“Vander is a tough kid,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy that’s a competitor.”
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” said Blue. “A lot of guys can’t say they get called up from the D-League and, better yet, say they had a chance to play. They have a lot of guys down right now and they need me to come in and produce.”
The Celtics remembered Blue from his predraft workout in Waltham.
“It was a really good workout,” Blue recalled. “It was a really tough workout. I had a good conversation with Danny [Ainge] afterwards. We connected really well. He said, ‘You never know, we may see each other again.’ ”
Blue attending training camp with the Philadelphia 76ers before being a late cut. He also signed to play overseas in Israel, but he played there only briefly before joining the 87ers.
“It’s been a journey for me,” Blue said. “I’ve had one incredible story, but I just want to keep it going.”
Blue is one of two guards on the roster on a 10-day contract. The Celtics signed Chris Johnson to a 10-day deal last Friday.
Stevens is familiar with Blue, as the two were on opposite sides during the 2013 NCAA Tournament, which ultimately marked Stevens’s final game as the Butler head coach.
Stevens’s sixth-seeded Butler Bulldogs faced the third-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles in the second round, and Blue scored 19 of his 29 points in the second half to help his team rally back and pull off a 74-72 win.
“He hasn’t brought it up yet,” Blue said with a smile. “We talked about [Marquette] coach Buzz [Williams], but I’m pretty sure it’s going to come up soon.”
Said Stevens, “He made threes against us both times we played him last year and made big, big shots. Was not scared of the moment.”
Blue said he’s excited to play for Stevens.
“I think he’ll be a great fit for [the Celtics] and he can help me a lot,” Blue said. “I’m willing to work for him. He’s a good guy.”