Injuries stretching Celtics thin

Injuries stretching Celtics thin
March 31, 2012, 3:48 pm
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MINNEAPOLIS Ray Allen continues to be sidelined with a right ankle injury, and the Boston Celtics keep on winning.

The idea that there's a connection between the two is just plain old crazy to Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

"It's nice that we're winning," Rivers said. "But we won in the stretch when (Rajon) Rondo was out. We needed him back, too. It's just the way basketball is. Our team has weathered a lot of storms. The way things look, we're just going to have to keep doing it."

Allen's injury as well as Mickael Pietrus' concussion, has forced Rivers to go deeper into his bench along with increasing the minutes of his starters.

"That combination (of injuries) really stretches us," Rivers said.

And that has to be a major concern for the Celtics as they inch closer towards the playoffs.

The good news is that the C's backups have responded with strong play for longer stretches of time, because of all the injuries.

But the increased workload has had a toll on many of them, further increasing the likelihood that they too could be sidelined at some point.

Celtics backup center Greg Stiemsma is trying to fill the void left by Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) and Chris Wilcox (heart condition) who are both out for the season. The increased playing time has factored into him having a sore right foot that requires him to wear a protective boot prior to games, and essentially keeps him off the floor or very limited during the team's game-day shoot-arounds and practices.

"It's not going to get better until I get some rest," Stiemsma told CSNNE.com. "Hopefully I won't be getting too much rest anytime soon."

Avery Bradley, who has filled in admirably for Allen with the starters, has battled a shoulder injury and more recently, a sprained ankle.

He has proven himself as a defensive game-changer, in addition to a viable scoring option who can knock down open jumpers.

Bradley is nowhere close to being a player whose minutes have to be monitored.

But Rivers would love to have a couple more bodies available just to better balance out the minutes and not have to lean so heavily on a handful of healthy players.

"You'd rather have your guys," Rivers said. "I'd rather have Ray Allen. I'd rather have Mickael Pietrus, and everybody. Then your team is whole. Every time you lose a guy, your team gets thinner and thinner, guys are playing more minutes, they get stretched. We have some talented players. Our guys understand that. not taking anything away from our team, but I think any team can win in a small pack of games when a guy is out. It's when it gets extended, is when you struggle."