The Boston Celtics head into game 2 of their first round playoff series against the New York Knicks tonight with the knowledge that Chauncey Billups is unlikely to play.
The team, and Rajon Rondo specifically, need to take advantage of this and put the series to bed as quickly as possible.
Don't get me wrong, the team should not be worried about losing to the Knicks when Billups returns. The Knicks are lacking too many pieces after the Carmelo Anthony trade during midseason.
However the Celtics are already without Shaquille O'Neal and cannot afford to lose another big man to injury. The less games it takes to eliminate the Knicks the less exposure that Jermaine O'Neal, among others, receives to picking up further injuries.
Jermaine O'Neal has become a pivotal piece for the Celtics as Doc Rivers cannot be sure when Shaq will return. He is somewhat less important against the Knicks as the team's main scorers Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire can be handled in the post by Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce if necessary.
However should the Celtics advance further in the playoffs and end up facing either the Atlanta Hawks or Orlando Magic. They will be in desperate need of O'Neal's minutes
Both of those teams have all stars inside with Dwight Howard and Al Horford. They are also surrounded by better players which gives them greater depth than the Knicks. Double teaming Dwight Howard or Al Horford won't be as easy as double teaming any Knicks player.
Health is a major factor for the Celtics, a 4-0 series would give them even more rest.