BOSTON With Chris Wilcox (back) out indefinitely and Darko Milicic nursing a right wrist injury for at least another game, it's time for the Boston Celtics to put their big man insurance policy to use.
And the name of that policy is Jason Collins.
The veteran big man saw his most extensive action of the preseason in Boston's 97-96 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
He played 15 minutes and tallied a preseason-high five points.
When Collins signed on with the C's, he knew his chances to play would be few and far between.
But that has no impact on his approach to every game.
"I'm a professional," he said. "I know, always stay ready. Even going into the last three minutes of a game, it doesn't matter. My job as a professional is always be ready. And when your name is called, be ready."
Having been in the NBA in what will be his 12th NBA season, the C's are familiar with what Collins can and cannot do.
"When he comes out there he's going to rebound, he's going to set picks," said Celtics assistant Armond Hill. "He's a guy you don't have to call anything for, but he's going to do all the little things. He's going to do all the dirty work, really. So he's valuable."
Boston's Paul Pierce said his former teammate and current Comcast SportsNet analyst Brian Scalabrine used to talk about Collins in glowing terms when Scalabrine and Collins were teammates in New Jersey.
"Scal always bragged about him," Pierce said. "He thought Collins was the best post defender in the NBA. He's a solid veteran. He's not going to be asked to play big minutes for us, but he's a true professional. He's in the gym, staying ready. He's in the gym; he's keeping his body in shape. He's going to be called upon at some point in the season, some big minutes for us. We know he can be a solid contributor for us."
It was certainly that way in Atlanta last season. After spending the bulk of the season sidelined, injures force the Hawks to put him in the starting lineup in the playoffs against Boston.
"It's just one of those things where you never know what's going to happen," Collins said. "The team, through the course of regular season, playoffs . . . your name might be called. When it is, you have to go out there and make plays.
Collins' ability to help out when called upon is in part because of his basketball wisdom, the kind that comes after having spent more than a decade in the NBA.
And it's clear to Collins that having a relatively high basketball IQ seems to be the norm -- and not the exception -- in Boston.
"This is the highest basketball IQ team that I've ever been a part of," Collins said. "Usually, there's maybe one or two. But we have a lot of guys on this team who have high basketball IQs."