HANG TIME TEXAS, Y’ALL – Admit it, just the mere thought of trying to cram 66 games into four months was enough to send many of us reaching for an ice pack and a comfortable spot on the sofa.
If you’re the aging Celtics, all of those trips on an off the planes, the back-to-back-to-backs and especially that grueling stretch of eight games in 13 nights in three time zones and five states touching both coasts in March were bound to take a toll. It’s a fact of life when your core consists of 34-year-old Paul Pierce, 35-year-old Kevin Garnett and 36-year-old Ray Allen.
But did anybody think it would be happening already, before the Green Seniors have even rolled out of bed on Christmas morning for the opener against the Knicks?
Coach Doc Rivers, as usual, is trying to stave off panic. But if any team of would-be contenders needs to walk the tightrope of good health, it’s these Celtics. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge is already handcuffed by salary cap room in trying to make additions to his team and any kind of significant or lingering injury to a member of the Big Three could sink the Celtics in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it condensed season.
Having already lost key reserve Jeff Green for the season due to a heart problem, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com tells us that the Celtics are now keeping a careful watch on a bruised right heel that’s been bothering Pierce:
Tip-off for the 2011-12 season is a mere five days away and Rivers expressed concern Tuesday about whether Pierce would be ready for a Christmas Day visit to New York because of a bruised right heel. What seemed like a minor ailment suffered on the first day of training camp has grown more worrisome as Pierce has been shut down yet again with the goal of getting him game-ready later in the week.
Rivers admits that, long term, Pierce’s injury is not much of a concern (though the pessimist would kindly remind him that he said something similar when Shaquille O’Neal first tweaked his Achilles in February and we all know how that turned out). Let’s be absolutely clear, we’re not suggesting that Pierce’s injury is anywhere near as severe (he worked out Monday, but woke up sore on Tuesday, forcing the team to reduce his workload with hopes of ramping him back up on Friday). But here’s the point: New season, familiar line of discussion.
Come to think of it, could the worries about injuries have been at least part of the motivation behind Allen’s blast of free agent David West choosing Indiana over Boston?
Considering the grind, can anyone really expect the Celtics to be and ready and able by the time the playoffs begin?
There are still four shopping days ‘til Christmas. If you haven’t picked out something for the Celtics yet, may we suggest a bottle of aspirin and some extra rolls of tape?