The Boston Celtics—perennial fan favorites even when they don't have a successful season—are facing several unique situations this year. They’ve been dealing with injuries and illnesses one after another this year; and while few teams would survive a season like this, the Celtics have chosen to solider on and have turned this into a winning season. Although a “mature” team made them the butt of several jokes about old age, the Celtics appear to be hitting a stride as they passed the Philadelphia Sixers for first place in their division.
It’s amazing how Doc Rivers and the Celtics have been able to maintain a successful season despite not having key players for long stretches of time. No matter which team’s jersey you wear on game day, seeing the list of players who have missed time this season will make you appreciate what the Celtics have done and continue to do this year.
Jeff Green, a forward, signed a one-year contract with the Celtics in December of 2011. After the contract was signed, Green underwent a routine examination and doctors found an aortic aneurysm. It is quite lucky for Green that this was discovered, as this could have caused serious medical issues if left untreated. Green underwent surgery in January and is planning to continue playing basketball in the 2012-2013 year. This is one player who’s lucky he had individual health insurance to help him through manage skyrocketing health care costs.
But Green isn’t the only player to suffer from heart problems. Chris Wilcox, a forward and center, was also diagnosed with an aneurysm of his own. The Celtics placed him on waivers so they had more room on their roster to support other players. Wilcox also hopes to continue his career in basketball after he recovers from surgery.
On March 23, Michael Pietrus was injured in a game against the Sixers, during which he suffered a grade-three concussion. This means he’ll face extended recovery time before he will even be allowed to practice and begin warming up with the team. The Celtics still have hope that Pietrus will rejoin the team this year, although a return date is still uncertain. Concussions can be a difficult problem for basketball players and is something that experts have been trying to work with in recent years.
There have been other, less serious injuries to the team through the shortened season as well. One of the team's stars, Ray Allen, missed six games a couple earlier this season. As the playoffs approach, the Celtics must hold on to the hope that their team stays healthy; otherwise, their amazing comeback might be short-lived.
So far, the Celtics have bounced back from each of these setbacks thanks to the team’s unsung heroes and true team players. Second-year guard Avery Bradley and rookie center Greg Stiemsma have both stepped up to become important parts of the team: Bradley continued to start when Allen returned from injury because his defense has been so outstanding.
At the heart of the Celtics is their coach, Doc Rivers, who’s probably felt like a real doctor after seeing all of the injuries this year. But Rivers—and his team—have shown what great coaching and playing can do for the morale and success of a team.