Celtics faced with more adversity after Barbosa injury

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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."

Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

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Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

WALTHAM -- You won’t find the Boston Celtics blaming anyone but themselves for Saturday’s 127-123 overtime loss to Portland. 
 
But they certainly didn’t get any breaks down the stretch from the referees, who made a huge officiating mistake in the final seconds of regulation. 
 
Following a Celtics miss in the game’s closing seconds, Blazers guard Damian Lillard wound up with the ball but was stripped almost immediately by Marcus Smart, who put the steal back in for a lay-up that would have given Boston a one-point lead with 10.8 seconds to play. 
 
The ruling on the floor at the time was a foul against Smart. But officials later determined as part of their report on the final two minutes of the game, that the foul against Smart was an incorrect call.
 
“It just pisses you off, doesn’t it?” Crowder said. “It just pisses you off. I don’t like it.”
 
Crowder, like a number of players I have spoken to about this particular subject, is not a fan of the league releasing the information. 
 
And his reasoning, like his NBA brethren, is simple. 
 
There’s no recourse relative to that particular game if the officials in fact got a call wrong. 
 
So for their purposes, the transparency that the league is seeking, while just, doesn’t do them a damn bit of good when it comes to what matters most to them. Which is wins and losses. 
 
“It’s over now. It’s too late to confirm it now,” said Smart who told media following the loss that the steal was clean. “The game is over with. It is what it is; on to the next game now.”
 
Smart added that having the league confirm the call was wrong is frustrating. 
 
“They come back and tell you they miss the call, but it’s over now,” Smart said. “We’re on to the next game. It’s like they shouldn’t even said it. But I understand it; they’re trying to take responsibility and show they made a bad call. We appreciate it but at that time as a player it’s frustrating. That possibly could have won us the game.”
 
But as Smart, coach Brad Stevens and other players asked about it mentioned, Boston made so many mistakes against the Blazers and played so uncharacteristically for long stretches that it would be unfair and just not right to pin the game’s outcome on one bad call late in the game. 
 
“It happens,” said Stevens who added that he’s never read a two-minute report other than what he has seen published by the media. “There were plenty of things we could have done better.”
 
He’s right.
 
That blown call didn’t cost the Boston Celtics the game. 
 
Their play did. 
 
The Celtics turned the ball over 21 times that led to 34 points, both season highs. 
 
They couldn’t contain C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, two of the league’s most explosive guards who combined for 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting.
 
Boston allowed Myers Leonard to score a season-high 17 points. 
 
Certainly the bad call against Smart was a factor. 
 
But it would not have been an issue if the Celtics had done a better job of controlling the things they could have controlled, like defending shooters better, making smarter decisions when it came to passing the ball and maybe most significant, play with a higher, more consistent level of aggression around the rim. 

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

WALTHAM -- The team flight to Washington for tomorrow night's game against the Wizards will be a little lighter than the Celtics would like. 
 
Boston continues to be cautious with Avery Bradley and his right Achilles strain injury. Coach Brad Stevens confirmed that the 6-foot-2 guard won't travel and will sit out for the seventh time in the last eight games. 

Stevens added he didn't anticipate Bradley returning to the court anytime this week, which means he's likely not to return until next week's game against Detroit on Jan. 30. 
 
Bradley won’t be the only Celtic not making the trip for health-related reasons. Gerald Green and Demetrius Jackson are both not traveling due to sickness. 
 
However, the Celtics did get a bit of good news on the health front. Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller, both having missed games with sickness, will take the trip to D.C. with the rest of their teammates.