Injuries stretching Celtics thin

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Injuries stretching Celtics thin

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."

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

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Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

The Bruins will add another veteran defenseman to their training camp group fresh off the World Cup of Hockey as German D-man Christian Ehrhoff is headed to Boston on a PTO (professional tryout agreement). CSN has confirmed that Ehrhoff has indeed agreed to a PTO with the Bruins, and he'll report to the team sometime this weekend.

The 34-year-old Ehrhoff had three assists in six World Cup games for Team Europe, and had two goals and 10 points in 48 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks last season while clearly starting to slow down a bit. He’s clearly no longer the player that averaged 14 goals and 47 points for the Vancouver Canucks from 2009-2011, and is another left-shot defenseman to add to a team that already has Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.

But it behooved the Bruins to bring in at least one “name” veteran D-man on a tryout basis during this training camp with so many needs for upgrades on the back end, and with a host of young players that might not be ready for prime time. This might also be a warning sign for young veteran Joe Morrow, a left shot D-man that has struggled a bit in training camp after coming off an erratic first full season at the NHL level.

Clearly the Bruins need more than Ehrhoff, however, even if he’s somehow re-energized with the Bruins after playing pretty well in the World Cup. The Kings were down enough on his game to put him through waivers last season, but he was a top-4 defenseman for the previous eight seasons for San Jose, Vancouver, Buffalo and Pittsburgh prior to getting bounced around between the Kings and Blackhawks last season.

The added bonus with taking a look at Ehrhoff is that there’s no risk associated with a PTO, and the Bruins can simply walk away with no cost if the B’s coaching staff decides he’s not a good fit for the group in Boston. On the other hand, bringing in a Kris Russell-type would cost a great deal in terms of money and term in a free agent contract, and it might not benefit the Black and Gold club in the end result.