For the second time this week, the Celtics have suffered a season-ending injury to a key player, and for the second time this week, they'll have to fight through the adversity and play on. Another game awaits, as the C's face the Orlando Magic at the TD Garden tonight.
"I told the team after shootaround that our goals haven't changed," coach Doc Rivers said. "We will have to play differently again. We're still working on what we may have to do, but I think we definitely have to be a small-ball team. We'll start big as usual with Brandon [Bass] and Kevin [Garnett], but then after that, we're just have to put our five best players on the floor. We'll have to be creative."
Rivers said that with Sullinger missing and the C's lacking for a backup power forward behind Bass, he'll have to rely on Paul Pierce and Jeff Green to slide into the four-spot. Both players will have to rebound more, filling the void left by Sullinger and his 5.9 boards per game.
"He was playing great," the coach said. "The good news is now we know he can play. He's a very good player, and in the long run, this will make him healthier."
With both Sullinger and Rajon Rondo on the shelf, the depleted Celtics look ahead to Orlando tonight, and the mighty L.A. Clippers on Sunday. There's no time to sit and sulk.
"It's tough because I feel like we still are a good team," said team executive Danny Ainge. "It's a tough blow. We'll just have to find a different way to win."
"Like Doc's said, everybody else can write us off, but the guys in here, we can't write each other off," said Courtney Lee. "We've got to go out there, continue to fight, continue to play for each other, play hard."