|01.02.10 at 11:04 pm ET|
The Celtics shed a little light on their developing injury situation Saturday night.
As expected, Rajon Rondo joined Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the sidelines. Doc Rivers said he was didn’t want his young point guard to make his tender hamstring worse, and after reviewing Rondo’s performance against Phoenix, Rivers said he was concerned that Rondo was trying to over-compensate for the injury. The decision to rest him was set in precautionary terms. “I think he wanted to play,” Rivers said before adding that trainer Eddie Lacerte makes the final call.
While Rondo sat, Pierce detailed his experiences last week, which involved a higher than expected white-cell count and an additional surgery to deal with fluid and an infection in his knee. (Go here for more details). If all goes well Pierce might practice Monday before the team heads to Miami to start a three-game road trip, but that’s far from certain. Rivers called it 50-50 and Pierce said he was “day-to-day.”
What is certain is that Rondo and Pierce are far more likely to rejoin the team before Garnett does. Since details of his hyper-extended knee have surfaced, Garnett has been pushed back from likely to miss the next two games, to possibly out for as much as 10 days from now. That could have Garnett out of the lineup for as many as five games, but even that is far from a hard target.
“I have no idea,” Rivers said. “I really don’t.”
If that sounds eerily familiar to last season, well, it is. The difference, perhaps, this time around is the Celtics may be better-equipped to deal with Garnett’s absence for an extended — and unknown –period of time this season.
For starters, the stakes are much obviously lower now than they were last season. The playoffs are nowhere in sight and the Celtics hot start has given them ample room for Garnett to take his time and heal properly.
The offseason addition of Rasheed Wallace also gives the Celtics a reasonable facsimile of Garnett’s production and Wallace played perhaps his best game of the season against the Raptors Saturday night. He worked effectively inside on the post and his timely outside shooting helped loosen up the Raptors interior defense, which frankly wasn’t all that tight to begin with.
“When Rasheed wants to be, he can be one of the best post players in the game,” said Kendrick Perkins, echoing what so many have said over the years. “But, when he comes to play and he’s focused, man, he’s great.”
The Celtics will need more performances like this from Wallace over the next few weeks, whose play can accurately be described as uneven through the first 32 games. “Rasheed shows you he can play almost every night,” Rivers said. “He doesn’t play well every night, but he’s getting better each game.”
The third factor with Garnett is that the Celtics have been through this once before. The veteran players are mature and grounded enough to know that it will take some time for Garnett to return and they are prepared to deal with his absence, no matter how long it lasts.
“With Kevin, the big thing is we just want to stay afloat and stay on top of the East until he gets back,” Perkins said. “We don’t want him to feel like he has to rush back.”
|01.02.10 at 10:04 pm ET|
In truth, no one really knew what to expect when the Celtics took on the Raptors Saturday night featuring a starting lineup that included Tony Allen (playing point guard, no less) and J.R. Giddens. Add in Rasheed Wallace in place of Kevin Garnett and a bench that had six healthy players, including Bill Walker and Lester Hudson, and well, what right did anyone have to expect the Celtics to beat the resurgent Raptors?
The Celtics now have four days to try and get something that resembles a healthy team in place for a road trip that will have them go to Miami, Atlanta and then Toronto. At this point, no one really knows who among the trio will be healthy enough to play against the Heat, although Pierce and Rondo would be the best guess. Garnett is likely to be out longer.
But for one night, the Celtics were able to steal a victory that was all the more satisfying against a division rival with their makeshift lineup.
Player of the Game: Rasheed Wallace. The Celtics began the game by feeding Wallace in the post and Wallace promptly banked in a jumper over Chris Bosh. It was a sign of things to come for Wallace who used his inside and outside game to play maybe his best game in a Celtic uniform. Wallace finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, and he and Kendrick Perkins took turns making Bosh work for his offense.
Turning Point: After a competitive, but ragged, first quarter, the Celtics bench helped push the lead into double-digits in the second. Led primarily by Glen Davis, who had his best game since returning from injury, Eddie House and rookie Lester Hudson the Celtics reserves shot 7-for-13 in the quarter.
* Giddens got his first career start, but Hudson was the best of the so-called Celtics “kids.” Fresh off a stint in the D-League, Hudson looked calm and confident running the team. Bill Walker did not play.
* Wallace and Hedo Turkoglu picked up double technicals in the second quarter. It was the 11th technical of the season called on Wallace, putting him five away from an automatic suspension.
* Tony Allen had the dunk of the night, blowing by Bosh and jamming it home against an unguarded basket. Toronto’s defensive shortcomings have to be seen to be believed. Later in the fourth quarter, Wallace spun around Andrea Bargnani and easily beat him baseline with no help coming for a huge dunk.
* The Celtics had six players score in double figures led by Ray Allen who scored 23 of the quietest points he’s scored in his career. Tony Allen also had his best game of the season with 14 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
|01.02.10 at 7:56 pm ET|
“At least you know it’s going to be a lot longer than that, but you don’t know how quickly he can come back from that.”
Entering Saturday’s game, the Celtics were 2-3 in the five games without Garnett in the lineup.
|01.02.10 at 6:51 pm ET|
For the first time since having two surgeries to clean out a nasty infection in his right knee around Christmas, Paul Pierce spoke before Saturday’s game and said he plans to be with the team on its upcoming road trip and is hopeful to return to practice as soon as Monday.
Pierce, who was wearing a white circulatory wrap on his right knee, said the infection and subsequent pain came upon him quickly following the team’s home-court win over Indiana on Dec. 22.
“It was a situation I got home and I was sort of sitting back and relaxing and then sort of felt a slight pain in my knee and then over a 10-to-15 minute period, it just got worse and worse,” Pierce said. “It went from just kind of hurting to sore to bad to extreme in like a 15-minute period, which was crazy.
“I called Eddie Lacerte about 1:30 in the morning and he knows I never call him unless it’s really bad. So, he came over to the house and checked it out. We went to the hospital that morning, doctor checked it out and we did the surgery. An infection somehow got into my leg.”
Pierce said after his first surgery on Dec. 23 his white blood cell count skyrocketed to 40,000 indicating an infection. The doctors then went in on Christmas Day to clean it out again and isolated the infection. He said he doesn’t have a particular game in mind for a return.
|01.01.10 at 6:24 pm ET|
WALTHAM — When Kevin Garnett returned from knee surgery this season, there was a question as to how many games he would play. He hadn’t played a full 82 games since the 2004-5 season and had not played more than 71 as a Celtic.
Surely Doc Rivers would want to give his big man rest, but when and how long?
Even though now Garnett is out ‘indefinitely,’ according to Rivers, with a hyperxtended right knee which he suffered this week, the Celtics coach says this period of rest was not part of a master plan to preserve minutes.
‘No, no, this is because of a freak accident,’ Rivers said after practice on Friday. ‘Kevin is as frustrated as anybody that he hyperextended his knee on a play that happened twice in two different games, which is literally impossible…Both times he was jumping off you’re feet and someone kicks you and kicks the back of your leg, for that to happen once is almost impossible. For that to happen twice is just bad luck. And it just did. He’s laughing like how can that happen twice? I said, well it happened in this game and in that game. That’s how.’
Rivers said rest is imperative for this kind of injury, regardless of who the player is. But given Garnett’s history with injuries, the team has to be extra cautious.
‘It’s not a serious injury but if you don’t take care of it, especially in Kevin’s case, he’ll compensate, and then he would injure himself,’ he said. ‘So I’m not taking that chance.’
|01.01.10 at 6:09 pm ET|
WALTHAM — J.R. Giddens sported a pair of red and green Nikes during practice. It was appropriate for the second-year player who is expected to receive a belated Christmas gift on Saturday.
“That’d be a Christmas present and a Happy New Year,” Giddens said with an uncontrollable smile following practice on Friday.
While Rivers only hinted that one of the younger C’s (Giddens, Lester Hudson, and Bill Walker) would play and Giddens spoke hypothetically, Kendrick Perkins said he expects to see him in the starting lineup. Giddens is preparing himself by coming back to the Celtics training facility to get in some extra shots and cardio until he feels comfortable with his offense and ball handling.
Playing time period is a big deal for Giddens. The 2008 first round draft pick has played a total of 61 minutes in just 15 games this season and looked forward to any opportunities, let alone the chance to start.
But things were different when Giddens showed up for practice on Friday. Rivers called him, Hudson, and Walker into his office to discuss the importance of their roles in the midst of the injuries. Then he worked out with the first unit.
Giddens seemed at a loss for words at points when he talked about the possibility of starting. But after pausing a moment of reflect on his journey since Draft Night, he was filled with emotions.
“Being a first round draft pick and then not getting the chance to play is very humbling,” he said. “Now that I have that opportunity, I know I’m so fortunate and I feel so blessed to get it. I think this made me appreciate ball a lot more and playing. I always say when I played basketball when I was living, you know when I got reps, it would be just like living again, getting out there.”
|01.01.10 at 5:33 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Glen Davis turned 24 years old on Friday. He felt it, too.
“I feel old,” he said after practice. “Old, old, old.”
He had a reason to feel that way. The banged up big man, who broke his right thumb in October, sprained his right ankle this week. But with a depleted lineup (Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and Paul Pierce will not play on Saturday), Davis is needed on the court.
“We need some help. You know? We need as many bodies as we can,” he said. “So as long as I’m functioning, I can play with the pain. If I can function, I can play. It’s how it is.”
Davis participated in a two-hour practice on Friday. He is expected to play against the Raptors unless his ankle swells up overnight, said Rivers.
Davis’ thumb is still sore and will receive extra tape on his ankle. He said once he begins playing, though, he becomes too busy to focus on the injuries and forgets about the pain. Whether or not he should be playing becomes inconsequential to him.
“No, I want to play. It doesn’t matter. As long as I can function, I’ll play. I’m good enough to do something out there,” he said. “That’s the beauty about my game. I’m not a high jumper. If I was a high jumper, I’d be kind of concerned because that’s the only thing I can do. But my game is staying on the ground, getting position. It kind of takes away from my jumpshot a little bit, but I’ll make it work.”
As long as Davis feels like he can play, it doesn’t matter how old he feels.
“I’m functioning,” he said. “I can play. I can play hard. I can compete. “
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