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."

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

00:43 - Rob Gronkowski says he's ready to go against the Texans. Michael Holley, Tom Giles and Kayce Smith talk about this risks of him playing while injured.

05:47 - Phil A.Perry follows up the Gronk discussion with a deeper breakdown of Gronk’s decision to play this Sunday.

10:02 - David Price appears to be easing back into baseball after pitching Friday night. Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Price’s outing in Cincinnati. 

16:12 - The BST crew recaps the Red Sox win over Reds. Drellich returns to analyze how the pitchers performed and how that will impact the Red Sox postseason stretch.  

Danny Amendola embraces delayed follow-up to strong Week 1 performance

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Danny Amendola embraces delayed follow-up to strong Week 1 performance

This actually won’t be the first time that Danny Amendola had to wait to follow up a strong season-opener with the Pats. 

As the veteran receiver aims to return Sunday from a concussion and knee injury after leaving the Pats’ Week 1 loss early and missing Week 2 altogether, he’ll try to build a Week 1 performance that saw him lead the Pats with 100 yards on six receptions. 

The stop and start is somewhat reminiscent of Amendola’s first year with New England in 2013, when he had 10 receptions for 104 yards in the season-opener. He suffered a groin injury in that game, however, and didn’t play again until Week 5. At least the wait is shorter this time around. 

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“I mean, there’s going to be bumps and bruises along the way, but that’s football, right?” Amendola said Friday. “But I feel really good today, feel strong, so get ready tomorrow and just continue to prepare.”

In that first game back in 2013, Amendola again led the Pats in receiving yards, but it was in a terrible offensive showing for New England. All it took was four receptions for 55 yards to be the Patriots’ best receiver in a 13-6 loss to Cincinnati in which Tom Brady had a rare scoreless game. 

If Amendola can pick up where he left off in Week 1, the Pats will be in good shape. They’re also expected to have Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan ready to go, but Amendola was Tom Brady’s most reliable weapon in the Chiefs game, even though Brandin Cooks made a bigger impact with two pass interference penalties drawn in the red zone. 

Not known for his durability towards the end of his time in St. Louis, this will be the fourth of Amendola’s five regular seasons in New England in which he didn’t play in all 16 games. He played the full season in 2014, 14 games in 2015 and 12 games in 2013 and 2016. 

With Julian Edelman out, Brady could certainly use Amendola’s services as often as possible. That’s especially if he plays the way he did in Week 1. 

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