Let’s take this morning to catch up, as we deal with the never ending wave of news that is 2010-11 Boston Celtics:
First a quick injury update. We’ll start with Delonte West who is currently recovering from a sprained right ankle, suffered in a walkthrough during the team’s west coast road trip. Before Wednesday night’s game Doc Rivers had hoped he could return for Sunday’s roadie against Milwaukee, but after yesterday’s practice, that timetable will be drawn out a bit longer as he will miss the entire weekend of games, and hopes to get on the court next week.
With West out of the picture, the C’s backup point guard situation becomes cloudy at best, with no “true” point guard remaining at the spot. Luckily for the C’s, Avery Bradley has shown flashes of progress the past couple games, enough so where Doc’s at least comfortable running him out there against the lower tiered teams of the league for short stretches. And with Delonte’s value to this squad more crucial than ever with Nate Robinson thankfully sent packing, the team will be extremely cautious to make sure he returns to the floor with a healthy body. A hidden benefit of the injury? More rest for that right wrist.
Moving on to other members of the walking wounded, Shaquille O’Neal, who missed the entire month of February with a an inflamed Achilles’ looks to be on the verge of returning to the court next week according to Rivers. (Chris Forsberg at ESPNBoston)
Center Shaquille O’Neal took part in non-contact skeleton drills at the beginning of practice as he recovers from an inflamed right Achilles. He came back onto the court briefly after the session and did look slightly slimmed down after sitting out the past 11 games.
As conspiracy theories fly around about whether Shaq is indeed “hurt” or the team is just resting/getting him into better shape for the stretch drive, the likely answer is a combination of both. The thing I worry about it Shaq regaining the chemistry he had with the first unit through the first two months. Luckily it sounds as if he won’t be delayed too much longer from getting back into action, which should help the starting lineup in its attempt to run all on cylinders by the time Round 1 rolls around.
Ray Allen also got a day of rest yesterday from practice after complaining about sore legs. It was a much needed one I might add, after the sharpshooter played 37.4 minutes a game for the month of February as Rivers had to balance the need to win games and injuries with giving rest to the 35-year-old veteran. The former department won out obviously, but additional reinforcements during this month should help reduce that minutes number by 3-4 minutes for Ray.
Helping fill that void for Rays minutes is Sasha Pavlovic who was signed officially by the C’s through the rest of the season yesterday. The swingman practiced with the team, and had left some impressions on the boys in green from his days in Cleveland according to WEEI’s Paul Flannery:
“He was pretty good,” Rivers said. “There was one game at the Garden where they went ISO against us offensively where he kicked our butt. I reminded Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] of that quite a lot over the last couple of days.”
Those years with the Cavs were the best of Pavlovic’s career. He averaged nine points a game and shot over 40 percent from 3-point range on the 2007 team that made an unexpected run to the NBA finals. At 6-foot-8, 205 pounds, Pavlovic offers the Celtics a big and experienced player to back up both wing positions.
“One of the things we’ve always liked about him, he’s a competitive defender,” Rivers said. “He doesn’t back down from guys. I think he can fit in well with us. He’s a skilled player as well.”
Pavlovic has played in just 14 games this season, splitting his time between Dallas and New Orleans. He was thrilled when he got the call from the Celtics, who officially signed him on Thursday in time to go through his first practice. He’s here to provide depth, toughness and hopefully some outside shooting (he’s a 35 percent 3-point shooter for his career).
“I think I can do pretty good defensively,” Pavlovic said. “I can shoot open 3’s. I’m just going to keep it simple. There’s a lot of great players on this team, whatever my role is going to be, I’m going to be happy to do it.”
With both Big Baby and Delonte out the next couple games, expect Pavlovic to jump right in and get minutes starting tonight, while pushing Green to the 4 spot off the bench with Troy Murphy, as Doc continues to mix and match until he gets a full roster. Bradley/Wafer/Pavlovic/Green/Murphy as a 5-man bench unit tonight? Why not.
Finally, we can close the door on the Leon Powe return to Boston as the free agent has signed with the Grizzlies, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com. Here’s hoping he and TA can continue to wreak havoc in the west, while upsetting the Lakers or Spurs in the opening rounds of the Western Conference playoffs.