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Celtics keep on rolling despite injuries

By Ryan Hannable

Going into tomorrow nights matchup with the league leading San Antonio Spurs the Celtics have a 26-7 record. They are first in the Eastern Conference-a half game ahead of the Miami Heat, and have the second best record in the entire NBA. This all despite of playing all of the 33 games without their full complement of players, and been effected by injuries all season long.

The Celtics have been without center Kendrick Perkins since he tore his ACL in game six of the NBA Finals last June. Reports have said that he is set to return after the all-star break. In the off-season the Celtics acquired guard Delonte West to help the depth in the back court, but he missed the beginning of the season due to a suspension and then after only playing in five games he broke his wrist. They also acquired forwards Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal to help the front court, especially with Perkins being out for most of the season. Jermaine has battled injuries from the beginning and has only played in 13 games all season. Shaq, who is now 38 years old has sat out nine games thus far. Point guard Rajon Rondo has also been battling lingering injuries all season long and has missed 11 games. Most recently, Kevin Garnett suffered a scary muscle injury last week in Detroit. He has missed the past three games. The injury looked much more severe when it happened, but according to GM Danny Ainge KG is set to return in about two weeks.

If you knew that the Celtics would have all of these injuries most people would never have imagined that the Celtics would be in possession of the second to best record in the league. The Celtics have got valuable contributions from players that were expected to ride the pine most of the season, and only play in garbage time. Back up point guard Nate Robinson has been spectacular starting in 11 games in place of Rondo. His aggressive style of defense and hustle plays has energized the team. He averages eight points a game. Guard Marquis Daniels, who was brought in as a defensive specialist has contributed offensively as well averaging five points a game and doing a fine job giving the team quality minutes when Robinson has had to sit. Forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who has been a role player the past few seasons has been forced to start three games and play big minutes that he has not had to do in the past. Davis has responded by averaging over 12 points a game and just over five rebounds. Guard Von Wafer has been a pleasant surprise as well. Rookies Luke Harangody and Avery Bradley, who were expected to the last guys off the bench have been forced into playing in 15 and 12 games respectively and have adjusted to the NBA very nicely playing very well considering their youth.

You cannot talk about the Celtics without mentioning the "Big 3". With all of the injuries to role players the "Big 3" have had to play increased minutes and increase their production. Ray Allen has led the three in minutes, averaging over 36 per game. He has averaged 17.1 points per game, and has continued to provide big shots for the Celtics down the stretch of games. Paul Pierce has played in just over 35 minutes per game and has been outstanding for the team in all facets of the game. Pierce averages 19 points per game, just over five rebounds and just under four assists. KG who has missed the last three games, has still played an increased number of minutes this year (31.6 per game). Finally playing on a knee that is 100 percent healthy Garnett has been a beast on the boards, grabbing just under 10 a game. KG has also averaged 15 points. While Doc Rivers probably did not want to play these guys this many minutes so early into the season, it has been his only option in order to keep the team playing well and winning.

With the Celtics success so far this season despite all of the injuries, shows just how good this team is. They will get Perkins back in a few weeks, KG will be back in just over a week, Rondo will hopefully be able to regain his health and get back to being close to 100 percent. With all of this, it is going to be scary to see how this team comes together and plays. It should be noted that the starting five of Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Perkins has yet to lose a playoff series. Could Banner 18 be coming to Boston in June? Barring injuries I would say that it is a very good possibility.

I will be writing a weekly column on the Boston Celtics appearing here each week. Feel free to send any comments and suggestions to me at ryanhannable@yahoo.com. Follow me on twitter at Hannable84.

2 comments:

  1. I agree banner 18 is on the way, it is a great time to be a fan of Boston sports. Go Sox as well.

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  2. Tough after Sunday's loss for the Patriots, but yes the Bruins have been playing well as well lately and the Sox look very solid for 2011.

    ReplyDelete