Injuries force C's to make changes on-the-fly

Injuries force C's to make changes on-the-fly
April 12, 2014, 12:00 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON — It's only fitting that in the final weekend of the season for the Boston Celtics, head coach Brad Stevens is in a bit of lineup limbo.

Rajon Rondo (shin) was an unexpected no-go on Friday night, so it's unclear he'll play in Cleveland tonight.

"If he feels good he can, because it's not a back-to-back for him," Stevens said. "But I don't know."

Stevens didn't have much time to mull over not having Rondo in Boston's 106-103 win over Charlotte.

"Ed (Lacerte, the team's trainer) came in and told me, he said, 'Rondo is out,' and I went straight to the next plan," said Stevens, adding, "because we only had about an hour and a half before the game."

Rondo's replacement Phil Pressey (10 points, career-high 13 assists) did a nice job of filling in. But it becomes increasingly tougher for Boston to fill all the holes created by this rash of late-season injuries.

Jared Sullinger (left ankle) says he plans to play, but that'll only happen if the swelling around his ankle decreases significantly in the next few hours.

Kris Humphries was back in the lineup on Friday after missing a couple games with a right knee injury. An MRI showed no structural damage, but that doesn't mean the tendinitis in the knee is any easier to deal with. Humphries said he's not sure if he'll play tonight.

And then there's Jerryd Bayless who hyperextended his right knee and will have an MRI taken today to determine if there's any structural damage. If the results show no significant damage, Stevens said Bayless may join the team prior to tonight's game.

If all four players are unavailable to play, that would leave the usually-thin Celtics roster even leaner than usual with just seven healthy players available.

Adapting to on-the-fly changes is part of what it takes to be an NBA player.

Sullinger recalls his first NBA start a year ago, and how it was so unexpected.

"Doc (Rivers) did me so dirty last year," Sullinger said. "My third game of the year against the Wizards. We meet at 35 (minutes on the clock in the locker room) and he's talking to the team and Doc goes, 'Sully come to my office' and was like, 'you're starting tonight.' I was like, 'ok, wow.' It caught me off guard."

In that game, the Celtics won 89-86 and Sullinger had four points and seven rebounds.

But it served as a lesson that Sullinger knows all too well now.

"That's the thing about the NBA. You always have to be ready," Sullinger said.