With just one more game remaining until the All-Star break, please excuse the Celtics if they seem a bit relieved. Boston currently resembles a MASH unit more than a basketball team and the six days off between games following Wednesday night's clash with the New Jersey Nets at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. EST, on Comcast Sports Net New England) may well do wonders for some of the C's walking wounded.
Headed into the break, no less than than six members of the Celts regular rotation are banged up, from Jermaine O'Neal's knee surgery to Shaquille O'Neal's troublesome Achilles and right on down the line. Last Thursday night, against the Lakers, Nate Robinson suffered a knee bruise that took him out of that game and rendered him limited on Sunday against Miami and then, on the heels of an 0-for-10 shooting performance, we were treated to the news that captain Paul Pierce was dealing with a foot injury serious enough to require an MRI on Monday. The results of that test came back negative, showing only some bruising, and Pierce will be available to face the Nets. Still, given all of these injury issues -- we haven't even mentioned Marquis Daniels, Semih Erden or, most recently, Delonte West re-injuring his wrist in Tuesday's practice -- the upcoming break couldn't possibly come at a better time for the C's.
"Obviously, the break is coming at a great time. We have one game left," Celtics coach Doc Rivers told ESPN Boston.
Rivers also said that Shaq's Achilles is still giving him problems and couldn't guarantee that the big man will see any action when the Celts resume their schedule out against Golden State next Tuesday, but that Erden is improving and is expected back against the Warriors.
Of course, the break won't necessarily be so relaxing for everyone. Rivers will be coaching the Eastern Conference All-Stars on Sunday night in L.A., and Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo will all be on hand as well. It will be interesting to see how many minutes Rivers gives Pierce in the game, as well as how the captain looks defending his title in the three-point contest on All-Star Saturday Night, a showcase in which Allen is also scheduled to participate.