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Can't Stand the Heat? Get Off the Injured List!

By Sarah Barton


Dwyane Wade...SO hot right now.

The Boston Celtics...not so much.

To a non-Celtic fan, Boston's lineup against the Heat last night would have been nearly unrecognizable. If the laundry had gotten messed up and Bill Walker came onto the court in a Miami uniform, a lot of people may not have even noticed.

I wrote last week that Boston's injury problems (which have since evolved from "problems" to a mild catastrophe) would give the Celtics the opportunity to play some bench guys. One week and two sprained ankles later, opportunity has become necessity. The bench has to get in the game. Ten Celtics are currently physically able to play. Three of them have limited NBA experience and two have limited Celtic experience. A sure-fire recipe for disaster, right?

Kind of.

After Wade torched the Bulls on Monday, a depleted Celtics squad was faced with the daunting tasks of trying to cool him off and trying to get a feel for their new personnel. Which task was more daunting? Probably the latter. Which was more likely? Probably the former. Did Boston adequately handle either of those tasks? 

Kind of.

Even without the "El Heat" jersey, Wade's hot streak doesn't show signs of stopping. He averaged 38 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3.5 steals in the five games leading up to last night. With that recent track record, Boston could only hope to contain him. And that didn't happen. Or maybe it did - he only dropped 32 last night. It's all relative. Boston is one of the better defensive teams in the league, but not when five of their top eight players are absent. Team defense is often overlooked, and it's a lot harder for guys to learn and execute defensive schemes than offensive sets. Wade capitalized on that.

Instead of talking about who wasn't on the court last night for the Celtics, let's focus on who was. Ray Allen. As long as Ray Allen is in the game, he is going to score. Allen and Leon Powe combined for 26 of Boston's 32 first quarter points. They lit it up, finishing with 27 and 23 points, respectively. Unfortunately, only three of Ray's points came in the second half. Pierce, Perkins, and House also finished in double-figures, but it simply wasn't enough to push the C's into the win column.

There is work to be done, but the Celtics are holding their own in the meantime. The entire free world is aware that health is the most important thing for Boston right now, but health mulligans are not factored into the standings. From a standings standpoint, Boston's next three games are against teams that are a combined 45 games under .500, so hopefully a few wins are in order. Then they'll get Miami again, this time at home.

Have the Celtics begun to navigate their current roster situation? I suppose so. Last night we got a glimpse of Powe's ability to step up and Marbury and Moore's ability to be non-factors (although Moore's four first quarter fouls were a factor). The roster really can't get much thinner before Rondo and Davis come back, so this current situation is quite temporary and manageable. If the Celtics, with one-third of the team injured, can give the Heat a good game, doesn't that mean that Boston will be three times better once everyone is healthy?


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