By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Danny Ainge recently joked that with the Celtics’ recent rash of injuries, maybe he should give himself a 10-day contract and suit up for the team.
It’s a pretty funny line from the Celtics president of basketball ops. At least it was funny until Wednesday’s injury report was released.
The Celtics have ruled five players out for Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden, and that doesn’t include Gordon Hayward. The Celtics will be down three of their five regular starters, with Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness), Jaylen Brown (concussion) and Al Horford (illness) all sitting out Wednesday night’s tilt. To make matters worse, rookie Jayson Tatum is a new addition to the ever-growing injury list, listed as probable with low back tightness.
If Tatum is forced to sit, center Aron Baynes could be the only regular starter suiting up for head coach Brad Stevens on Wednesday night. There was hope that Horford would return after missing Sunday’s loss to the Pacers, but that isn’t the case.
So who will be starting for the Celtics on Wednesday? If Tatum can go, Stevens could trot out a starting five of Shane Larkin, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, Tatum and Baynes (we should note that Larkin is also on a minutes restriction). If Tatum can’t go… well Stevens and Ainge will have to break out a dart board and go from there.
Given Wednesday’s injury report, here are the “healthy” players the Celtics will have to work with on Wednesday:
Semi Ojeleye (rookie)
Abdel Nader (rookie)
Guerschon Yabusele (rookie)
Jabari Bird (rookie)
Kadeem Allen (rookie)
Wednesday, and the next few weeks for that matter, are going to be quite the test for Stevens and company, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Irving isn’t expected to miss too much time as he rests his sore knee and Horford should be back soon, potentially by Friday in Orlando. Brown will hopefully be out of the league’s concussion protocol soon, though you never know with concussions.
The biggest area of concern remains Marcus Smart’s bad thumb, with the guard heading to New York some time in the near future for a second opinion. It’s still unclear if Smart can play with the injury, or if he’ll require season-ending surgery. That’s a huge “if” for one of Boston’s biggest x-factors with the playoffs just over a month away.
Things could get ugly at times for the Celtics in the short term, especially on Wednesday. But it should get better soon — we hope.