Celtics plugging away despite injuries, hiccups

Friday was scary for Celtics fans.

Friday was scary for Celtics fans.


Ray Allen missed the game due to a sore left ankle, Avery Bradley left the game after sprain in his left ankle, and Mickael Pietrus was carted off the court after an awkward collision that injured his head and neck.


The C's couldn't overcome those three injuries in the 99-86 loss to the Sixers, but there is a silver lining: They will all be back.


And really, that seems to be how it's been all season for the Celtics.


They've been relatively lucky in the health department. Certain players have been dinged up and missed games here and there, but in a season that compacts the schedule and leaves less time for rest, the veteran Celtics have kept their heads above water.

Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green are exceptions, but those issues with the heart are ones that were obviously unexpected and unfortunate and didn't occur on the court.

The Celtics needed size before it was found out that Wilcox would need season-ending aortic surgery on his heart. At that point, the need for size went from "must have" to "hey, you're tall, want to play for the Celtics?"

And on that note, meet Ryan Hollins.

The Charlotte Bobcats drafted the 27-year-old, 7-foot Hollins with the 50th overall pick in 2006. He has -- unfortunately -- lived up to the non-hype, now playing on his fifth team in six seasons.

Quite frankly, he's a 7-footer who doesn't rebound. He averages just 2.3 rebounds a game for his career -- far too low for a guy his size. But Hollins is healthy and willing to improve.

He has a good relationship with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from working out with them during the summer.

With those two in his ear, maybe Hollins can provide that little extra something in the paint the Celtics are searching for.

Three things we saw

1. No Ray, no problem

Avery Bradley stepped up in a big way Sunday night, as he scored a career-high 23 points for the Celtics.

Bradley has been one of the team's best defensive players all season, and is known for his tenacious on-ball defense. Last night, the defense was still there -- but the offense is what stood out. He hit his first seven shots of the game (six in the first quarter) and outclassed opposing guards Jordan Crawford and John Wall all game. Bradley, who finished 9-of-14 from the field, also played a game-high 40 minutes, and looked very comfortable playing alongside Rajon Rondo (four points, 11 assists).

2. The big third

Too bad the Celtics can't play the Wizards more often. The C's swept the season series, 4-0, against Washington after their 88-76 win Sunday night. They dropped 53 first-half points on the Wiz, which is well above their season average. But instead of really driving the stake home in the third quarter, the Celtics let the Wizards go on a 13-2 run and get to within eight points.

A quick Celtics timeout would right the ship, however, as they went on to score the next 10 points and re-establish their large lead. They never looked back.

3. Rest is overrated

The Celtics will play the lowly Bobcats in Charlotte tonight (7 p.m., CSNNE). It's unclear as to whether or not Ray Allen will be ready to go, but Mickael Pietrus is doubtful.

That means that the Celtics will need Bradley to keep the pedal to the metal on both ends of the floor.

The Celtics have three winnable games left in March with a home game on Wednesday against the Jazz, and a road game on Friday in Minnesota. After Friday, they won't play a non-playoff team until April 13 -- the start of three games in three nights. So yeah, if they hope to remain in the race for the Atlantic Division lead and the fourth seed in the East they need to win these ones now.

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