Well news just broke in the last hour that The Captain will be missing the next 2 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic irrigation on his right knee to clean an infection. I have to give a hat tip to my buddy Corey for alerting me with a text to get my Pierce report ready upon reading the news.
First let’s take a look at the “good news” from the injury report. Two weeks is not a long amount of time and by all accounts, the Celtics organization is putting on a front that this procedure is really no big deal to recover from. Do I believe them when they say this? I’m not sure, but for now I will take them at their word. Maybe Zach can interview the knee doctor again to get the inside scoop on this procedure.
There’s also a bit of bad news to go along with this injury, outside of any long term ramifications this injury might have for Paul, and that is simply bad timing. Right now, the Celtics are easily entering their toughest stretch of schedule this year.
Let’s take a look at how their next 8 games shake out over the next 2 and a half weeks.
@ LA Clippers
@ Golden State
Woof. That’s a challenging slate right there, even if the team was one hundred percent healthy. Without The Captain, and 3 of the team’s key contributors overall, if you include Marquis and Big Baby who by all recent reports is out until the New Year, the team’s stellar depth is now suddenly tested.
That’s without mentioning any lingering problems KG is having with his right thigh bruise that kept him sidelined last night. Reports have that being a strategic rest more than anything else, and it’s pivotal for that to be the case for the C’s, if they want to stay atop the East these next couple weeks.
Red flags should have started to go up earlier today in all honesty, once Bill Walker was recalled from the NBDL, since the team really had no need for him right now unless there was an injury. Now we know that to be the case.
So without Pierce and Marquis, the C’s 3 spot begins to look extremely thin. A couple questions for Celtics fans to chew on about the situation, including who replaces Paul in the starting lineup, after the jump.
1) Who starts?
Doc will have a couple options here. Initially, I’d say a lot of it would depend on matchups, but my early favorite out of the gate is Tony Allen. His height will be a problem as he would be an extremely undersized 3 or force Ray to guard one, but his defense and positive offensive contributions thus far this year could make him worthy of the call. Even if he doesn’t get the start, you can can count on TA being the guy who sees the biggest spike in regular minutes off the bench.
Brian Scalabrine could also be a dark house contender to start at the 3 hole. Unlike TA, he would be an oversized 3, which could work against some teams but also leave him in no man’s land when having to match up with athletic swingmen.
Doc has shown in the past he likes to turn to Scal to fill in for injured players in the starting lineup since he can shoot from the outside, plays steady and knows his limitations. Doc knows what he will be getting out of him. However starting Scal at the 3 might put the team at too much of a disadvantage defensively against certain athletic squads.
Overall, Doc’s lineup could depend on the opponent, but I’d put TA at a slight favorite to get the nod. Don’t count on Scal though.
Who else get Paul’s minutes? And how does this effect the rest of the rotation?
Well we know Bill Walker was brought up but I don’t think he is a shoe in for 10-15 minutes a game. One thing for certain is that Shelden Williams will likely no longer be nailed to the bench, as with Scal having to take some minutes at the 3, Shelden will see regular time at the 4 most nights these next 2 weeks.
With TA and Scal likely clocking in at 20-25 minutes a game, perhaps a bit more depending on who starts, its possible we could see a Lester Hudson or J.R. Giddens sighting for an extended look say 10-15 minutes or so these next few weeks. Walker is a natural 3 so he seems to be the logical fit, but Lester and J.R. have been with the team here all year so its likely Doc may be more comfortable with giving J.R. minutes at the 2/3 right now paired with Scal/TA rather than throw Bill Walker in the fire right away.
Eddie House will likely see a slight uptick in his minutes as well as more point duties than usual with the team being forced to rely a lot on TA in this spot.
All in all, there are a lot of questions here created by Pierce’s absence with few clear answers. If you like watching young players though (Brendan Jackson is likely drooling at the possibilities) be sure to stay tuned into the C’s these next 2 weeks. We should get a stronger glimpse into where exactly all these young guys place on Doc’s depth chart.