Krstic to undergo MRI, will miss at least two games


Krstic to undergo MRI, will miss at least two games

By A.Sherrod Blakely

SAN ANTONIO One big man returns, another one leaves.

Seems like it's been that way for the Boston Celtics all season.

It certainly was on Thursday, with the return of Jermaine O'Neal coinciding with a right knee injury to starting center Nenad Krstic that will keep him out for at least the next two games.

Coach Doc Rivers said Krstic will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of his injury.

If Krstic's injury is as serious as it looked in the second quarter of Boston's 107-97 win at San Antonio, it wouldn't be the first time he has suffered a significant knee injury.

While with the New Jersey Nets -- then coached by current Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank -- Krstic suffered a torn ACL injury to his left knee that sidelined him for the entire season.

Now that the Celtics are without Krstic, they once again find themselves short-handed at the center position.

In fact, the only true center they have now is Jermaine O'Neal, who returned to action on Thursday for the first time since Jan. 10 -- a span of 36 games.

The return of Shaquille O'Neal to the Celtics is up in the air.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told WEEI that O'Neal would be back Sunday or Tuesday of next week. Meanwhile, Rivers said he isn't sure when O'Neal will return, adding that his longer-than-expected time recovering from a series of right leg injuries may "bleed into" the playoffs.

"I just don't know because I've never had this situation," Rivers said of Shaq's return. "It's getting to become a challenge. It wasn't before, because I just viewed it as a regular season injury. Now it's starting to get close to bleeding into playoffs. Now that becomes a challenge."

When you add the uncertainty that exists now with Krstic's injury, the Celtics' frontline may have yet another hurdle to overcome between now and the postseason.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.