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Celtics missing key players for game in Madrid

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Some of the young players will need to step up when any of the veterans go down.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The preseason tour of Europe continues for the Boston Celtics, but the team will be a bit shorthanded at this next stop.

The Celtics will be without three players for Thursday's game against Real Madrid. Perry Jones has been excused from the team for personal reasons due to a death in the family. Evan Turner is nursing a right knee sprain, while Amir Johnson will sit out with an illness.

It sounds like there must be a bug going around. Several players are under the weather, including David Lee, who missed the morning shoot around.

"We've had some upper respiratory issues for a couple days now, and we have a couple of other guys who are a little feverish," said head coach Brad Stevensaccording to a report from NBA.com. "It's going around and I don't know who's going to be available and who's not."

Fortunately this Celtics team has plenty of depth to cover for these missing pieces. What this team is lacking in star power they make up for with a deep roster full of players eager to step up when given the opportunity. While most teams would be derailed by a rash of injuries, the Celtics are prepared to rely on the 'next man up.'

With a few of their veterans missing the game it gives the rookies more time to shine. The preseason is meant to prepare players for when the games start to count and the young players are the ones that need the most preparation. As far as one Celtics veteran is concerned, these rookies are ready to meet that challenge.

"They're always ready," says Jared Sullinger of his younger teammates. "Those guys are just ready to play, and as time goes on we're going to need them."

The Celtics are going to need them tonight as they start running low on available bodies. Seeing how the rookies react to potentially having an increased role while some of their teammates are sidelined will be a good test to prepare for when it may happen in the regular season.

You never want your team to be at anything less than full strength, but if it has to happen then at least it's only an exhibition game that these three veterans are missing. The silver lining to their absence is that it should be a great learning experience for the young players on this roster, which should pay off for the team in the long run.