The hits keep on coming for the Boston Celtics roster. On a night where the KG-less C’s were blown out of the Madison Square Garden, Paul Pierce was the latest star to suffer an injury, albeit a minor one, as the small forward turned his ankle in the first quarter.
Pierce played through the pain to the tune of 24 points, 15 rebounds and five assists before Doc Rivers gave him the fourth quarter off with the Celtics trailing by 20. The Captain was seen icing his right ankle late in the game, but in classic Pierce form, he played down the issue after the game to ESPNBoston’s Chris Forsberg.
“It’s just a little sore,” Pierce said. “I turned it in the first quarter. It shouldn’t be a problem.”
Informed that Rivers suggested he’ll get a night off, Pierce responded, “A possibility. We’ll talk tonight.”
After noting that Pierce had said he was fine, Rivers said, “We’re going to give him a rest, we’re going to sit him games, for sure. Very soon.”
Pressed on if that meant Monday’s game, Rivers answered, “Probably.”
With Pierce likely to get a well deserved and cautious night off against the Timberwolves, the question remains: Could the C’s beat the Wolves without KG, Pierce AND Rondo?
The answer is it won’t be easy, but it’s certainly possible. The Celts could catch a bit of an injury break themselves, as Wolves stud center Nikola Pekovic sat out Saturday night with a sprained ankle and remains questionable with his teammate Greg Stiemsma getting a start in his place. The underperforming squad is also still without Kevin Love, so their rebounding isn’t nearly as daunting as it once was. That’s important given how bad of a rebounding team Boston is without Pierce and KG.
Still, the Celtics will need to find some offense from people besides Jeff Green, a feat they weren’t able to achieve last night. Look for a starting five featuring Jordan Crawford or Courtney Lee and Green to provide an offensive spark, with a skeleton crew of four healthy players coming off the bench. Foul trouble will be a major issue as will defense, rebounding and scoring. Yeah so pretty much everything. That’s what happens when your three best players will sit out.
Here’s more from Doc to Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston on the possibility of sitting Pierce:
“Paul’s minutes have been OK,” Rivers explained, “but his weight load is still heavy. I just don’t want to wear him down. Obviously I know what we are risking by not playing him and Kevin right now, but at the end of the day, it would be a waste of time to wear them out, then play them in the playoffs. That makes no sense.”
The Celtics can afford to give away a game or two here, but not much more than that with the Bucks lurking just 2 1/2 games back. While it’s tough to punt on a winnable game in Minnesota tonight, if Pierce needs the rest, it should be given to him.