Celtics Dealing with Several Injuries

WALTHAM, Mass. – Having a completely healthy team isn’t something Doc Rivers has experienced very often over the past few seasons, and this compact 2011-12 schedule isn’t helping him in that regard.

The Boston Celtics have been suffering bumps and bruises since Day 1 of training camp and it is putting them behind the eight-ball when it comes to turning their season around. The C’s are coming off of a blowout victory on Wednesday night, but they’re also trying to recover from several injuries suffered before and during that game.

Rajon Rondo suffered Boston’s most pressing injury during the third quarter of Wednesday night’s win. Linas Kleiza of the Raptors flagrantly fouled him with 2:12 remaining in the third period and Rondo went down hard, falling awkwardly onto his right arm. For a moment, it looked like another hyperextended elbow, but the prognosis wound up being that he simply tweaked his right wrist.

The point guard was at today’s open practice in Waltham but he did not participate at all. He iced the wrist and did not use it during the hour-plus session, going to the extent of signing autographs and drawing up plays with his left hand.

Rondo was scheduled to undergo an MRI this afternoon, but he requested a time change so that he could be present at practice and help his young backup point guards.

"We've got two young point guards, and not that they need help, but as much encouragement and things I can tell them and try to teach them, I just wanted to be there for them," Rondo said after the practice.

The Celtics have listed Rondo as day-to-day, but Rivers isn’t very optimistic that he’ll have his All-Star point guard on the court tomorrow night against Phoenix.

“I doubt if he plays tomorrow,” said Rivers, “but we’ll see.”

That’s a similar outlook to that of Jermaine O’Neal, who tweaked his left wrist when going up for a dunk midway through the third period on Wednesday. Amir Johnson fouled him from behind and it was immediately clear that the wrist had been injured. O’Neal remained in the game and missed his ensuing two free throws, and then he continually clenched his left hand for the next few minutes of the game.

The tweak to O’Neal’s wrist is somewhat alarming because it’s the same wrist that haggled him throughout last season. The big man has been wearing a wrap on that wrist ever since he originally tore cartilage in it during a preseason game against Toronto in 2010. Interestingly enough, that’s who he injured it against this time around, too.

O’Neal did not participate in any live action during Thursday’s practice but Rivers is hopeful that his starting center will be available against the Suns on Friday. Rivers said, “I think he’ll play tomorrow,” but the verdict is not certain just yet.

The last note on the injury front regards Keyon Dooling, who is fighting his way back from a sore right knee. He has missed Boston’s last four games and is not expected to be ready for tomorrow’s tilt with Phoenix, either.

Dooling has been pegged as Boston’s top guard off of the bench, eating up minutes at both point guard and shooting guard, but he hasn’t been able to shake off enough of the pain in the knee to participate in any practices. The hope was that he would practice today and play tomorrow, but those plans were derailed this afternoon.

“We actually thought Keyon would practice today, and he couldn’t,” said Rivers, “so I guess that’s a setback.”

The extent and exact nature of Dooling’s knee injury is unknown, but what we do know is that it must be very painful to keep him out of the lineup for this long. Returning to action tomorrow would have been great timing, but that doesn’t seem like a possibility at this point.

With Rondo likely out of the lineup for Friday night’s game, Dooling’s absence will be felt even more than it has been over the past week. Boston would be forced to play its two young guards, E’Twaun Moore and Avery Bradley, for extended minutes against one of the greatest point guards of all time in Steve Nash.

That’s the type of predicament Rivers and the Celtics have stared down with regularity over the past few seasons, and it will probably surface again tomorrow night in TD Garden.