(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Doc Rivers stressed the importance of his team's health heading into the postseason, and appropriately so. Could a as-healthy-as-possible Celtics team with a few less regular season wins still compete for an NBA Championship? Doc thought so, and so far his forecast has been spot on.
The Celtics entered the playoffs at full strength. Were there bumps and bruises still being tended to? Most likely. But the Celtics' injured list was barren entering the first round against the Miami Heat, and it remained that way all the way through the majority of the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately, Game 5 against the Orlando Magic brought about some unforeseen injuries, which were compounded somewhat in Game 6.
We've seen what this group of Celtics is capable of in these playoffs when healthy, which is why, given the injuries that sprang up at the tail end of the last round (we'll review those in a minute), the six days off in between series is vital for Boston.
So, who's hurt? Surely, everyone's banged up in some sort of manner, but let's focus on the issues we can clearly identify.
Rasheed Wallace: Those back spasms he appeared to suffer at the end of Game 5 against the Magic were painful enough for him to yell out after converting a layup inside with 5:12 left. After he fouled out with 4:49 to play, he retreated to the bench, and afterward, after learning of the issues, his status for Game 6 was immediately put into question. While he did tough it out for the final game against the Magic, he played just 12 minutes, and his production was minimal (compared to some of his other performances in the series) with zero points and three rebounds. He checked out with 8:40 left in Game 6 and headed straight for the locker room.
The latest update on Rasheed, courtesy of Chris Forsberg's Twitter, is that he participated in skeleton drills at practice today, not enduring any contact. Hopefully the next three days will prove to be enough to get this situation under control, so 'Sheed can impose his will on these NBA Finals.
Rajon Rondo: I'm told NBA players used to hustle a heck of a lot more back in the day, compared to what we see in today's game, and used to be a whole lot tougher. But even if that's true, I'd wager that Rondo's set some sort of unofficial record for most crumples-to-the-floor in a single season and playoffs. The guy always manages to bounce back up, but surely you all saw how hard he hit the floor late in the first quarter of Game 6. He came down hard on his lower left side and stayed down for a few minutes, before finishing out the quarter. But, when the second quarter commenced, Rondo was laying on his stomach on the sideline with his back wrapped up. Add in the muscle spasms that bothered him in Game 4 and we can probably list Rondo as "banged up".
As for the latest, Rondo participated in 75-80 percent of practice today. Personally, I'm confident these next three days will be enough to put Rondo close to 100 percent. Participating in as much of today's practice as he did was definitely a good sign. And, besides, injured or not, Rondo's going to play in this series.
Marquis Daniels: His head colliding with Marcin Gortat's chest in Game 5 didn't look overly vicious, but it was clearly enough to concuss him, to the point where he needed to miss Game 6. Despite him not playing a significant amount in these playoffs, he could prove valuable if the Celtics need another defender to throw at Kobe Bryant.
The latest on Daniels is he sat out of today's practice and will be out indefinitely. It's looking like he might not be ready for the start of the series, but maybe, if his condition improves, he can play a small role defensively later on as the series progresses.
Tony Allen: TA twisted an ankle in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, which limited him in Game 3. His impact on the series wasn't as noticeable from that point on, but the good news is he still managed to play at least 11 minutes in every game following the initial problem. He participated in the entire practice earlier today, and with the added rest these next few days, should be ready to check Kobe defensively.
Glen Davis: Like Daniels, Davis suffered a concussion in Game 5 against Orlando, after taking that elbow from Dwight Howard to the face with 24 seconds left in the third quarter. While a concussion might have been the diagnosis, Davis pronounced himself as "alright", and promptly played two nights later in Game 6. He put in six points and hauled in seven rebounds, and, after not appearing to suffer any longstanding side effects after participating in practice today, hopefully he's back to normal. Frankly, I'd be surprised if we saw any Game 5 concussion-related issues once the Finals get under way.
Kevin Garnett: This one is more speculation than anything else. He participated fully in practice today, but he still looked worn down at times towards the end of the Orlando series. Granted, offensively, he didn't have a great series (he shot 38.8 percent from the field over the course of the six games). I attribute what seemed like a fairly noticeable lack of intensity on KG's part later in the series to general fatigue more than anything else. We'll need Garnett to be clicking on all cylinders, especially defensively, throughout the Finals, so if this is nothing more than fatigue in the midst of a grueling series (my personal theory), the six days off should do him wonders, and he should be ready to go.
Obviously, some issues are more serious than others, but the majority of the names on that list have been a part of Doc's consistent playoff rotation, so getting them patched up as best as possible prior to tip-off on Thursday is vital. It would be a shame, given the playoff run the C's have had so far, if health suddenly limited them in the most important series. Ideally, we'd see both of these teams enter the fray with no one on the injured list, that way it's just basketball determining the winner, and nothing else.