The Celtics, already shorthanded at forward with star Kevin Garnett likely out for the playoffs, suffered another significant blow today when they learned that Leon Powe will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee.
Powe, a key reserve at forward, had an MRI after injuring the knee in the second quarter of the Celtics' 118-115 victory over the Bulls in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series. The injury was originally diagnosed as a sprain, but the Celtics received the bad news this morning.
"He's obviously out for the playoffs," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Surgery will be determined when it's determined. So obviously a tough break."
Knee injuries are nothing new to Powe. He had reconstructive surgery on his left knee in the spring of 2002 after his junior season at Oakland Tech High School. The 6-foot-8-inch, 240-pounder also had reconstructive surgery on his left knee and bone graft surgery during his sophomore year at the University of California.
He missed the entire season, and while he returned to excel as a redshirt sophomore at Cal, his history of knee problems was a major reason he lasted until the 49th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.
"He played three minutes with a torn ACL on the floor [Monday night]. That says so much about Leon Powe the person," Rivers said. "Forget the playoffs and all that stuff. That's just a tough injury for a kid who's done everything right. That just makes no sense."
Powe injured his right knee March 17, also against the Bulls, causing him to miss nearly a month. Rivers said that Powe's right knee will not require surgery.
The injury is yet another blow to the Celtics' front court, which is already missing Garnett, sidelined with a knee injury. Powe was the first forward off the bench, with Glen Davis starting in Garnett's spot. Mikki Moore will likely see more playing time in Powe's absence, while Brian Scalabrine will return from post-concussion symptoms. He has not played since Feb. 23.
“Tough break," said Davis. "[Powe’s] very competitive. I think what he needs to focus on right now is getting healthy.”
Powe averaged 5 points through the first two games of the Bulls series, including an 8-point, 8-rebound effort in 17 minutes in Game 1. Powe, who will be a free agent this off-season, averaged 7.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 17.5 minutes during 70 games in the regular-season.
Rivers said Powe was not at the practice facility yesterday and he told him to "take some quiet time for himself."
“It’s tough. You know the whole circumstances with the contract year and all that stuff,” Rivers said. “It’s just a lot of bad things. That’s part of the sport. It’s a tough one . . .
“We talked a little bit. There is not a lot you can say. The game, when you talk to him at that moment, is not as important as life. I don’t think people understand that about sometimes. They put their careers on the line every time they go on the floor.”