Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff January 3, 2011 05:50 AM
TORONTO -- With yesterday's win over the Raptors, the Celtics started a stretch of five games in seven days, a difficult stretch for a team reeling from injuries.
"Itís rough," said Jermaine O'Neal. "Itís rough. We were just talking about it. Guys are sore. Itís not even this week. Itís almost a mirror image for the next two weeks. Every other day for the next two weeks, and thatís rough for a team thatís banged up. But weíre going to have to take really good care of our bodies, get a lot of rest and help each other."
Injuries made January a long, dark month last season. Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce all had their own share of ailments and the Celtics went through their first losing month in the Big Three Era. Garnett is out again this season with a strained right calf, but the team got one very important piece back yesterday with Rajon Rondo returning. Still, with Garnett, Delonte West and Kendrick Perkins out, they'll have to win with a thin roster.
"Weíve just got to get through it," Rivers said. "Weíre starting to get healthier. I doubt if Kevin plays this week. We never know weíll see. Weíve just got to figure out a way to win each game separately."
After going 33 minutes yesterday, Rondo will continue to play, being cautious but Aldo trying to work himself back into pre-injury form.
"All Iím worried about is my wind," he said. "Iíve just got to be a little more mature on certain plays. I canít make the plays I usually make right now, but all weíve got to do is execute, and I think we can still get wins. Weíve got to get stops and continue to execute down the stretch of games."
One thing they won't have to worry about immediately is travel. They play the Timberwolves at the Garden tonight, the Spurs come Wednesday, and the Celtics wrap up their season series with Toronto on Friday. After their trip to Chicago Saturday, they play six straight at home over a two-week span.
"I havenít seen a stretch like this since I was a Celtic, this many home games in one month," said Paul Pierce. "So this is an opportunity we have to take advantage of. Even though weíre injured, I think that the group we have out there and being at home will be a plus for us. So we have to take advantage of it."