After Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo returned to lead the Boston Celtics to an overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks last night, the blows kept on coming for head coach Doc Rivers with Avery Bradley adding his name to the list of walking wounded.
Bradley appeared to have a dislocated shoulder, the Celtics official word is that he has a sore shoulder, that wouldn't pop back in last night. Ultimately Bradley didn't finish the game and left in the fourth quarter while his status for the remainder of the series is clouded in doubt.
The Celtics were just getting their roster in shape with Allen having an impressive return from injury, scoring 13 points from the bench on six of 12 shooting despite not hitting a three and adding six rebounds with two steals. Allen returned after nearly a month out while Rajon Rondo responded to his suspension with his 20th career triple double. Rondo finished the night with 14 rebounds, 12 assists and 17 points in 49 minutes on the court.
With Rondo, Allen, Bradley and a sprinkling of Keyon Dooling, the Celtics had a very strong back court to attempt to cover their limitations in the front court. Now, potentially without Bradley, Allen will likely be forced back from the bench to the starting lineup or Dooling will be promoted because of Allen's own recent fitness issues.
The knock-on effect of the Celtics' injury issues this season hits the players who are healthy enough to be on the court also.
With a shorter than expected rotation, soon to be 36-year-old Kevin Garnett is averaging 41 minutes per game this series, it doesn't help either that most of that time is spent at center while Paul Pierce is averaging 44 minutes during the same stretch at 34 years young.
Considering the Celtics already lack athleticism on the court since the beginning of the season, even getting to the second round of this year's playoffs is going to be a notable achievement.
No championship is easily attained, but the Celtics' playoff road is extra bumpy this year.