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Celtics notebook

Wanted: Healthy bodies

Pierce, Perkins, and Rondo are hurting

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / June 14, 2008

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - The Celtics didn't practice yesterday following their gritty comeback victory over the Lakers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals Thursday night, but it's debatable whether they even had enough healthy bodies to practice.

The Green, who hold a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and can end it with a win tomorrow in Game 5 at Staples Center, should consider adopting a red cross as an alternate logo, with three-fifths of the starting five injured.

Center Kendrick Perkins suffered a left shoulder strain during the third quarter of Game 4 and didn't return. Point guard Rajon Rondo is playing with a bone bruise on the inside of his left ankle, which occurred in Game 3. Captain Paul Pierce, who strained his right knee in Game 1, aggravated the knee in Game 4 and also tweaked an ankle.

"Well, we're not in great physical shape, there's no doubt about that," said coach Doc Rivers. "But that's what it is, and there's nothing you can do about that. I think our guys are mostly gamers."

Rivers didn't have an update on Perkins, but said the injury could be significant and that it was "not looking great right now."

Pierce said after Game 4 that the injuries give the Celtics all the more reason to try to wrap up the series quickly.

"I think these two days will be great for us to try to recuperate . . . and try to suck it up and end this thing before things get worse," said Pierce.

In it for long haul
Perhaps nobody will enjoy the extra day off between games more than Ray Allen, who went the distance in Game 4, playing all 48 minutes. Allen had 19 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, and 1 huge drive late in the fourth quarter that sealed the game.

"There was a point out there in the game where I knew I wasn't coming out," said Allen. "And I just said, 'I have to suck it up.' I have plenty of time to rest the next couple of months."

Allen, who is averaging 20 points and six rebounds in the series and shooting 52.1 percent from the field, would have a strong case for Finals MVP if the series ended tomorrow night.

Always on his mind
Rivers got emotional when asked about the possibility of winning an NBA title tomorrow on Father's Day. Rivers's father, Grady, died in November after a brief illness.

There was a long pause as Rivers attempted to gather his emotions. "Yeah, that's just a tough one to talk about," he said, his voice wavering.

He then returned to the inquiry on his own a few minutes later.

"To go back to my dad, he's just very important in my life," said Rivers. "It's still very difficult for me to talk about because I haven't had a lot of time, really, to reflect on it. You know, it happened during the season unexpectedly. It's very, very difficult. But I do think about it. I think about it a lot."

Fitting outfit
Celtics CEO and managing partner Wyc Grousbeck said he plans to wear the same black suit with green and white pinstripes for Game 5 that he did for Game 4. The suit is also the one he wore to the draft lottery last year, when the Celtics ended up with the worst pick possible under the system (fifth overall). It looked like the suit would bear - or wear - witness to another disaster when Boston trailed by 24, but Grousbeck never lost faith in his team or his suit. "I told Jeff Van Gundy [of ABC] at halftime, 'We are going to win this game,' " wrote Grousbeck in an e-mail. "I called the shot. I always felt that if we got it to 10 points or less we would get the win; we had 'the look' last night once we started rolling." . . . Whether the Celtics win the Finals or not, they've already scored one victory over the Lakers. According to the NBA, Celtics apparel is the most popular in the league, based on combined sales at the NBA Store in New York and NBAStore.com, beating out the Lakers. Kevin Garnett had the top-selling jersey, beating Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

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