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.
"It’s rough," said Jermaine O'Neal. "It’s rough. We were just talking about it. Guys are sore. It’s not even this week. It’s almost a mirror image for the next two weeks. Every other day for the next two weeks, and that’s rough for a team that’s banged up. But we’re 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.
"We’ve just got to get through it," Rivers said. "We’re starting to get healthier. I doubt if Kevin plays this week. We never know we’ll see. We’ve 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 I’m worried about is my wind," he said. "I’ve just got to be a little more mature on certain plays. I can’t make the plays I usually make right now, but all we’ve got to do is execute, and I think we can still get wins. We’ve 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 haven’t 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 we’re 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."