BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Celtics are currently battling the injury bug, but it might not be as bad as originally thought.
Kevin Garnett participated in the Celtics Wednesday morning shoot around, and has been upgraded to probable for Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Pistons, according to CSNNE’s A. Sherrod Blakely. Garnett had been listed as doubtful on Tuesday, nursing a sore hip flexor that flared up during Sunday’s win over the Bills.
Believe it or not, the 35-year-old Garnett is the only Celtic to play in every game this season.
Mickael Pietrus (knee) was also doubtful on Tuesday, but sounded confident that he would play. We’ll see if Doc Rivers feels the same way come game time.
But any injury in the shortened NBA season should be cause for concern, with not much time to relax and recuperate between games. With KG a little banged up and Jermaine O’Neal’s shoulder still on the mend, plus a Thursday night game in Chicago that begins a five-game road trip, the Celtics should rely on their bench more on Wednesday.
With Brandon Bass out, Chris Wilcox and rookies JaJuan Johnson and Greg Stiemsma should be ready to get the call off the bench.
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Wilcox and Johnson both played well Sunday in Boston’s win over the Bulls, and will likely see some more time together on the floor with, well, no one else really left to play. Wilcox, a nine-year veteran, has played much better as of late, as he figures out his role on the team. He played a season-high 26 minutes against the Bulls, pulling down nine rebounds and chipping in with 11 points. He ran the floor well, and was aggressive against a difficult Chicago front-court of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer.
Johnson also impressed in Sunday’s win, with the rookie notching career highs in minutes (33), points (12) and tying his career high in rebounds (4). He is gaining some confidence on the floor, and Rivers has applauded his dedication. Johnson should be rewarded with some more playing time and more opportunities to prove himself.
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With the Celtics front court banged up, having Detroit in town for an evening is a good night to rest anyone that needs it. The Pistons are coming off a loss to the Spurs Tuesday night, with their center Greg Monroe having an off night (four points, six rebounds in 22 minutes). Detroit does have a tough matchup in Jason Maxiell, but overall it’s a game the Celtics should win, even with players ailing.
The Celtics focus should be more on the upcoming road trip against tougher opponents (Bulls on Thursday, Mavs and Thunder next week). The All-Star break is just around the corner, and if the Celtics can make it through their next five games in one piece, they’ll get some much-needed rest heading into the final 34 games of the season.