Celtics faced with more adversity after Barbosa injury


Celtics faced with more adversity after Barbosa injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Regardless of whether Leandro Barbosa's left knee injury ends his season, the Boston Celtics find themselves once again having to deal with adversity.

A slow start led to cat calls for Danny Ainge to "blow" the team up, whatever that means.

A six-game winning streak quieted things momentarily, only to be followed by a six game losing skid.

Rajon Rondo went down for the season with a torn right ACL injury that was diagnosed on Jan. 27. Just three days later, Jared Sullinger had back surgery and he too was lost for the season.

Boston ran off seven straight wins, so all was good ... until Monday's 94-91 loss to Charlotte which saw the end of their streak and yet another Celtic player go down.

Leandro Barbosa was driving to the basket while being defended by Gerald Henderson. He made a pivot move, passed the ball back to the top of the key and began limping.

Moments later, he was on the floor in serious pain.

The Celtics say he has a left knee injury and will have an MRI this morning. Until then they won't officially know his status, but there are strong indications that he won't be back on the floor this season.

And so once again the Celtics will likely have to manage to get by with a roster that continues to get more and more depleted by the day.

"It comes with playing hard, and injuries happen in this league," said Boston's Jeff Green. "Guys have to step up and continue to come together as a team."

It seemed relatively easy for this group to figure out what to do when Rondo went down. As Boston's primary ball-handler, simply spreading the ball-handling duties around did the trick.

When Sullinger went down, Boston was forced to play more three-guard lineups. Rather than stay big against Boston, the Celtics found that many teams went small as well which gave them a better chance at holding their own or possibly winning the battle on the boards.

But in losing Barbosa, the Celtics have no way of getting a player from their current group that brings the kind of sprinter-like speed to the game along with the instant offense, that Barbosa has been able to deliver constantly.

And while he doesn't play a ton of minutes now, he is a great luxury for Doc Rivers to have on those nights when the offense sputters and the C's could use an aggressive scorer in the backcourt to get baskets.

The C's locker room was indeed a glum place following Monday's game.

"The blow of Barbosa is kind of the fog or the cloud that's in the room right now," said Kevin Garnett.

Even with Barbosa's injury, there were some Celtics players that remained hopeful that the MRI to be performed later today will show that the injury isn't that serious.

But when you see the pained expression on his face as he squirmed around the Time Warner Cable Arena floor, and the way he continued to grimace in pain as team trainer Ed Lacerte and teammate Fab Melo carried him off the court, it's hard to imagine that he will be back in time for Wednesday's game against Chicago - the C's last game before the All-Star break.

And if he is out for the rest of the season, Barbosa's injury will be the latest setback for a team that seems to keep getting hit with one setback after another - and still continue to fight on.

"We always go through stuff," said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. "We're able to overcome it because we're so close as a team. We just stick together. We'll be fine."

But seeing Barbosa go down is a tough one to swallow for his teammates.

The last man to sign with the Celtics before the season started, Barbosa instantly won over his teammates with his seemingly always-upbeat demeanor.

And when an illness in his family forced him to return to Brazil recently, a number of his teammates reached out to him before he left, while he was in Brazil and of course, after he returned to Boston.

Even though he doesn't play to the crowd, Barbosa has indeed become a fan favorite.

"Of course we feel bad for him. He's like a brother to me," Bradley said. "Just like I would for any of my teammates. I'll pray for him tonight and just hope that he gets better."