As much as we might not want them to be, injuries are indeed affecting the Celtics right now. Even though we anticipated such a reality before the season began, that doesn't necessarily make it any easier to swallow now that it's actually happening. With that in mind, let's take a look at the guys suffering from more than the typical bumps and bruises right now.
Rajon Rondo: The point guard's still dealing with his "mild" case of plantar fasciitis, on top of being bothered by lingering soreness in his left hamstring. Before last night's game, Doc Rivers suggested Rondo's feet were the real issues, as opposed to the hamstring, but Rondo said just the opposite after last night's game.
Said Rondo: "[The knee is] not even an issue. I'll get treatment on my hamstring and feet [Saturday before a flight to New Jersey for Sunday's game against the Nets]... It's mostly my hamstring."
The hamstring might have become a bigger issue during last night's game, when Rondo motioned to Doc to take him out mere minutes in because it had tightened up. He ended up staying in the game after signaling Doc to send his replacement, Nate Robinson, back to the bench.
You probably noticed that Rondo alluded to a knee in that quote. He fell awkwardly in the third quarter, and his left leg contorted in an ugly way. Rondo reached for the knee and stayed down for a moment, before ultimately walking over to the timeout huddle under his own power and returning to the game. Fortunately, it doesn't appear to be anything serious.
Nate Robinson: Speaking of feet issues, Robinson's still battling a sore right foot that was initially hurt in the team's 99-76 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on November 22.
Delonte West: It was nice seeing West on the bench last night, but we'd obviously prefer it if he wasn't sporting the cast on his right arm and the sling over his shoulder. West broke his right wrist in the team's 88-83 victory over the New Jersey Nets on November 24. He underwent successful surgery this past Tuesday, but no timetable has been set for his return. Jeff Clark did post news earlier, however, that West expects to play again this season.
Semih Erden: Semih put forth a solid seven-point (3-3 shooting), four rebound effort last night, despite a sort left shoulder (Doc claims it's a labrum issue), and a right thumb injury that appears to require a tape-job before every game.
Jermaine O'Neal: O'Neal's still recovering from lingering soreness in his left knee that's caused him to miss the majority of the last month. While Rivers said last Monday that he's not expecting to see O'Neal soon, he told WEEI on Wednesday that O'Neal might start working out next week (h/t fordescort). O'Neal also tore cartilage in his left wrist earlier in the season, which I'd be willing to bet hasn't fully healed yet.
Kendrick Perkins: Perk's rehab seems to be on schedule, which is basically all we can hope for at this point. He said recently he'll most likely wait to return after the All-Star break, which I personally think is a smart move.
I will add that Shaquille O'Neal was sporting some hefty heating pads on his shoulders during his time on the bench last night. It doesn't appear to be anything serious, but it's worth noting...
So, let's take a look at this list (we'll exclude Shaq). Heading into this season, four of the six guys listed (Rondo, Robinson, West, and O'Neal) were expected to play significant roles on this team at the outset. While Rondo and Robinson have still been able to play despite their injuries (Rondo's appear to be more serious than Robinson's), Jermaine's injuries have forced Semih into an increased role, and West's broken wrist means that one of the starters - probably Paul Pierce or Ray Allen - will have to be included in the second unit for the foreseeable future.
Doc Rivers called for consistency from his bench after last night's game, in which the pine guys surrendered a 12-point first quarter lead to the Chicago Bulls minutes into the second frame. But what should our expectations be for a group missing two key cogs in West and O'Neal? Both can significantly aid the second unit in different ways, as West can serve as more of a force on offense (he's no slouch on defense, either), and O'Neal can patrol the paint and aid the unit's interior defense. Will the C's get consistency out of lineups that might change, game-by-game? Or will that consistency only come once these ailing bodies return and the Celtics can establish a consistent lineup?
Rivers also noted last night that he's looking to play Von Wafer more, which could help to mask West's absence. Is he what the team needs right now?