OKLAHOMA CITY The Boston Celtics will be down to just three big men against Oklahoma City tonight, with Jermaine O'Neal (left wrist) and Chris Wilcox (groin) both headed back to Boston to see doctors for additional tests.
Even if both receive good news that their injuries won't keep them out too long, the Celtics still might need to add another big man to the roster.
If the Celtics were to add a big man other than by trade, they would have to waive at least one player.
The most likely candidates to be waived would be Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic, who have each played their way in and out of the rotation all season.
"It's pointing that way," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of needing to add a big man. "We'll find out more once Chris and JO get back. But the way they've been injured so much, we may need to get one, anyway."
And it may not necessarily come via free agent centers, either. Boston may look to the D-League for help as well.
Whatever they do, it's becoming increasingly clear that the C's don't have the kind of depth up front that they can rely on.
For Wilcox, he has missed three games with a left shoulder injury, and another six due to a sore left calf. O'Neal has missed two games with a sore knee and another two with a sore shoulder.
When you factor in Brandon Bass' left knee injury (he has missed six games and isn't expected back until after the all-star break), Boston's lack of depth upfront becomes a major, major issue.
Look at tonight's game.
Rivers said Garnett, who has missed the last two games dealing with a personal matter, will play more minutes than usual.
"We'll up his minutes by five minutes," Rivers said. "He's usually at 30. Today he'll play 35. But for 13 minutes, he'll be off the floor and somebody else will have to do something."
That means more Greg Stiemsma, who will get the starting nod at center. That also means more JaJuan Johnson, who has shown promise off the Celtics' bench this season.
"Trust me, everybody is going to play," said Rivers, whose roster is down to just 11 available bodies. "We got three bigs, and we're still debating on whether JuJuan is a big yet."
As far as the increased minutes for his younger players, Rivers isn't sold on the idea that it is a good thing for them or for the Celtics.
"You don't want to force anybody into minutes," Rivers said. "I've never believed that's good for a guy."