How Wilcox's absence impacts the C's
March, 11, 2012
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
LOS ANGELES -- While acknowledging that the most important thing at the moment is Chris Wilcox's health, a few thoughts regarding the on-the-court impact for the Boston Celtics amidst news that Wilcox will be out indefinitely due to a cardiac issue:
Brian Babineau/NBAE/GettyThe loss of Chris Wilcox could mean even more floor time for Greg Stiemsma.
* The Celtics are in a tough spot with the trade deadline looming on Thursday. The team already needed some big-man help with Jermaine O'Neal's future uncertain and now they must move forward without one of the few players capable of playing the center position. The hard part is that, even if this turns out to be a mere scare for Wilcox and he's able to resume basketball activities soon, the Celtics still have to make a decision in the next five days about whether they will aggressively pursue more size (all while likely waiting for the results of Wilcox's follow-up testing that isn't expected to be administered until early next week). It adds another layer of difficulty to the deadline for Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
* You can't help but wonder if Boston will need to make a move at the back end of its roster this week to at least free a roster spot. If Marquis Daniels is struggling to get on the floor, you can't help but wonder if the team would be better served to free a spot that could be used to bring in a big man on a 10-day contract. As we've stressed in this space before, it's got less to do with Daniels -- a truly inspiring story in coming back after lats year's spine injury -- and more to do with the Celtics having a glaring need to add a big body at the moment, even if it's nothing more than emergency depth. The fact that Boston hasn't added a big man for the rest of the season seems to indicate that there's no one available out there that likely deserves more than a 10-day tryout (but maybe they can find another intriguing young big man like Chris Johnson turned out to be last season).
* For the moment, the Celtics will likely be forced to lean a little heavier on rookie big men Greg Stiemsma and JaJuan Johnson while kicking off a season-long eight-game road trip in Los Angeles on Sunday. Stiemsma has seen his minutes jump up this week, including a season-high 27 minutes of action in Friday's lopsided win over Portland. Sure, he was 0-for-9 with only one point (he did grab seven rebounds, dish out three assists and block two shots) before fouling out, but he had a decent week (previously chipping in a total of 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting with three rebounds and two blocks in games against Houston and Philadelphia). Johnson could see more floor time if the Celtics go with smaller lineups.
* The biggest area Boston will need to pick up without Wilcox is rebounding. Sure, you look at his season averages and losing five rebounds per game doesn't seem like much. Alas, Wilcox has been outstanding on the glass at times, helping to ignite this recent stretch of success by closing February with back-to-back double-digit efforts on the glass. For a Celtics team that somehow emerged with two wins despite being devoured on the glass in three games this week, finding a way to remain competitive on the glass is key. Expect Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo to be reminded about needing to pick up their efforts on the boards moving forward.
* Losing Wilcox hurts on the offensive glass, too, where the Celtics are the league's worst team averaging a mere 8.4 offensive rebounds per game, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Boston is also last in second-chance points at 10.5 per game. What's more, the Celtics need all the fire power they can get from their reserves as Boston averages a mere 25.2 bench points per game, fourth-fewest in the NBA, according to Stats and Info.