Boston Celtics Guard, Marquis Daniels’ freak spinal cord injury during Sunday’s game against the Orlando Magic was both scary and unsettling. Scary, because Daniels lay motionless on the court with a (later determined) bruised spine, and unsettling, because he will need to be replaced in the Celtics rotation.
Thankfully, Daniels will be okay according to Danny Ainge and team doctor, Brian McKeon during their postgame press conference, but he will miss an indefinite amount of time.
Sources are varying, but a month appears to be the general consensus on how long Daniels will be out. Celtics fans will have to hope for a speedy recovery.
A curious note to come out of the press conference was that pre-existing conditions from multiple injuries suffered throughout the past few years contributed to Daniels' current injury. It’s a situation that will surely generate questions about Daniels’ long-term health in the coming days.
So while Daniels is out, Delonte West will be returning to the team. West has only appeared in five games this season with his own injury (and suspension), but he knows the system and is the type of player who can immediately step in and make contributions.
The downside is that there will be a two-week period where the Celtics presumably will not have either Daniels or West in the lineup, since Delonte is not fully healed. This leaves Von Wafer to step in and fulfill a greater role.
Wafer played 13 minutes on Sunday but did not contribute much in the stats column and has been limited to spot duty throughout most of the season. Still, he shows flashes of productivity at times.
He can drive to the hoop like Daniels and isn’t a complete liability on defense. So the Celtics should be able to manage with Wafer in the rotation.
One alternative is Avery Bradley who is currently playing for the Maine Red Claws in the D-League. Bradley will most likely be recalled with the Celtics currently unable to field a full 12-man active roster, but he would most likely not see any significant playing time.
The most realistic expectation would be an increase in minutes for Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. The starters would need to compensate for the lack of options after Nate Robinson off the bench.
The next couple of weeks will be a test to the Celtics' team chemistry and overall tenacity, but injuries are not something the team hasn’t already encountered this season. The real question will be can the Celtics remain healthy as the regular season starts to wind down.
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