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."

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.