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Rivers: Pierce, Allen, Perkins were ailing

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  May 19, 2009 03:07 PM

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Not that this should come as a surprise, but it turns out that the Celtics were at less than optimum health during their second-round playoff series loss to the Magic.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers revealed during an interview with WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan Show" this morning that several players were hampered by injuries, most notably starters Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kendrick Perkins.

"Ray Allen had a hamstring problem throughout the Orlando series that was not getting better," said Rivers. "Paul had some bone spurs that may need to be removed as well. Perk may have to have a procedure on his shoulder.

"In Ray's case, I thought his hamstring was bothering him a lot. That could have had an effect on him [against Orlando]."

Surgery is being considered for Perkins and Pierce, but nothing has been finalized, Rivers said. He also confirmed no date has been set for Kevin Garnett's operation to remove bone spurs from his right knee.

Rivers admitted it was frustrating to face the Magic -- not to mention attempting to defend their championship -- with a shorthanded roster. The Celtics played the entire postseason without Garnett, and valuable reserve forward Leon Powe was lost to a knee injury in the first round.

“The only thing that bothers me about the way the postseason ended was, you look at Kevin, you look at Leon, and you just say, 'Darn -- we didn’t have a real chance to defend our title with our best stuff,' '' said Rivers. "That's real tough for a coach and for a team."

Rivers said he doesn't believe Garnett's injury is not more severe than has been previously indicated.

"I think it will be the strained tendon and the bone spur," Rivers said. "What they started thinking at the end was that maybe the bone spur had something to do, maybe it started rubbing against the tendon and that’s what kept it inflamed. But they don't know that. That's just an assumption."

Rivers agreed that the absence of Garnett and Powe revealed a lack of depth on the bench.

"This year, if Kevin was healthy and Leon was healthy, that makes our bench 10 deep. . . . Those two guys being out really shortened our bench. But we have to improve our team. There’s no doubt about that. We don’t have to make any changes but we definitely have to make some additions."

At one position in particular, according to the coach.

"The one spot no one talked about all year was the small forward spot," Rivers said. "We need a small forward who can defend, who can make shots and give Paul a blow. I thought Paul, all year, had to guard the best guys all game. Whenever we took him out, we went small. We put Ray Allen in at small forward, which is a tough matchup."

Rivers said he is uncertain whether free agents Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Stephon Marbury will return next season, but his wording seemed to indicate an unsurprising preference.

"With Baby, it will probably come down to what he can get on the open market," Rivers said. "With Steph, it will probably come down to what we can get on the open market."

Frank Dell'Apa of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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