Boston Has Staved Off NBA's Injury Bug

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

WALTHAM, Mass. – There are plenty of NBA lists that players would love to wind up on. The Injured List is not one of them.

Staying off of that dreaded list, however, is easier said than done. We’re only a month into the regular season yet a disturbing number of stars, including the likes of Derrick Rose, Marc Gasol, Andre Iguodala and Bradley Beal, have already suffered substantial injuries.

The Injury Bug has been a hungry fella this season. It’s been biting all over the league, and members of the Celtics have been upset by the results.

“I hate to see injuries to anybody,” Brad Stevens said on Tuesday. “These guys all invest a lot. They all take care of their bodies at a high level, and it’s an unfair part of it.

Kelly Olynyk holds his ankle after spraining it against Indiana

Fortunately for Boston, Kelly Olynyk's sprained right ankle is the most serious injury the team has suffered this season.
Alex Trautwig/NBAE/Getty Images

“I love the way Gasol plays and I hope he gets back quickly. Obviously the Rose news hits everybody hard because you see one of the dynamite players in the league that is now going to be out for the better part of a couple of years. That’s tough stuff.”

Yeah, the type of stuff that Boston had been dealing with for the past half-decade. With one of the older rosters in the league during that timespan, the Celtics were dealt a myriad of injuries. Veterans like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were nagged by injuries throughout those seasons, and as recently as last season, Boston lost a whopping three players to season-ending injuries.

The Celtics have been much more fortunate on the injury front thus far in the 2013-14 season, though we’re only two months into it. Only two players, Keith Bogans (thumb sprain) and Kelly Olynyk (ankle sprain) have missed time due to injury. Bogans was back to full health within a couple of weeks of the preseason, and Olynyk isn’t expected to be sidelined for very long either.

Durability and overall health are two of the things that come along with being a younger basketball team this season. This average age of this team is only 26 years old. Only two players on the roster, Bogans and Gerald Wallace, have completed 10 or more seasons in the league.

“We’re younger. We’re definitely younger, and we’re fighting every day,” said Jared Sullinger, who is just 21 years old. “Father Time takes its toll on people. Even when you say it doesn’t, it does.”

Youth, however, isn’t an impenetrable shield. The Celtics know as much, and that’s why they sacrifice some things in favor of taking preventative measures. For instance, Boston completes nearly every team practice with a lengthy stretching session that had not existed over the past 10 years.

“Most of the teams I’ve been on you stretch on your own at the end of practice,” Gerald Wallace said.

Wallace went on to admit that when Stevens introduced the team stretch at the beginning of the season, he was a bit skeptical. He explained that players typically want to get right into their post-practice workouts. However, time has shown him that the approach has helped the Celtics stay relatively healthy this season.

“I think it’s been pretty good,” said Wallace. “Other than Kelly (Olynyk) getting the sprained ankle and our bigs getting banged up and bruised playing bigger bigs, other than that I think we’ve been pretty healthy this season. The emphasis is more on taking care of your body, strengthening.”

Sullinger gave credit to the process, but he also singled out the people behind the scenes who are keeping Boston fend off the Injury Bug’s bite.

“Honestly, we have one of the (best staffs in the league) with Ed Lacerte, B-Doo (Bryan Doo), Armand (Armand Lavallee), Todd (Campbell), B-Dolan (Brian Dolan),” he said while singling out all of the strength and conditioning coaches and trainers. “Those guys kind of keep us upbeat and they do all the necessary things to keep us healthy. With B-Doo and Armand, if that’s lifting. With Eddie or B-Dolan or Todd, if it’s therapy. Any of that stuff. It keeps us going. So we’ve got to give a lot of credit to those guys.”

Credit is certainly due somewhere, because this Celtics team has been one of the healthiest in the league this season. That’s saying a lot considering how many NBA players have already gone down.

Sullinger made sure to knock on wood before he spoke about that trend. Stevens did the same with his foot.

They know the Injury Bug is as hungry as ever, and they want to keep its bite out of Boston.