There’s a large tribe of Celtics fans who want their team to tank for a lottery pick.
Those fans had to be smiling when they learned who the Celtics kept sidelined Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden.
Starting forward Jared Sullinger missed his third straight game with a concussion after being elbowed in the head late in the Celtics’ Feb. 21 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“He’s done what he needed to do up to this point,” coach Brad Stevens said before the Celtics defeated the Hawks, 115-104. “But obviously we’re very sensitive to that, as we should be, very cautious about that, and we’re bringing him back at the right pace.”
Starting guard Avery Bradley missed his seventh straight game with a sprained ankle.
“He’s doing much better,” Stevens said. “I was told he is still out for sure Saturday [against Indiana]. Don’t know what that means beyond that, because I didn’t even ask about next week.”
Top reserve forward Kelly Olynyk sat out with a sprained toe that Stevens said Olynyk suffered in the Celtics’ loss Feb. 22 at Sacramento.
“He’s going to be in a boot for at least the next couple days,” said Stevens, who added that Olynyk probably wouldn’t play Saturday against Indiana.
Despite suffering that injury against Sacramento, Olynyk still played Monday against the Jazz in Salt Lake City — and he didn’t show any signs of an injury, scoring 21 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench.
Rookie center Vitor Faverani also sat out for the 12th straight game with a knee injury.
“We were planning on sending Vitor to [the Maine Red Claws], just to get a game in [Thursday], and I don’t think that’s going to happen either,” Stevens said. “He’s going to see the doctor again. He’s still experiencing some swelling in his knee.”
Said Faverani: “We have no big men. Sully’s out; Kelly’s out. It’s hard, but it’s my knee.”
So the Celtics went with a new starting lineup, their 17th this season, one that Stevens called “unique”: Rajon Rondo, Jerryd Bayless, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Kris Humphries.
Along with guard Keith Bogans being excused from the team, the Celtics entered Wednesday with just nine healthy players.
“This is basketball,” said forward Gerald Wallace. “Our guys have played a lot of minutes. They’re not used to playing a lot of minutes. Injuries are starting to add up.
“It’s just something you have to deal with throughout the season. It’s just unfortunate that we were already kind of shorthanded from the start and now it’s happening to a lot of our key guys, which is unusual.
“We have guys who have to fill in and kind of make up for it.”
Beaubois on deck?
The Celtics are considering signing guard Roddy Beaubois to a 10-day contract.
“I’ve heard [about Beaubois] and I’ve heard that has certainly been brought up, but from what I know, nothing imminent, nothing cemented,” Stevens said.
Beaubois, 26, averaged 7.1 points, 2.1 assists and 1.9 rebounds over 15.9 minutes over 182 games in four seasons with the Dallas Mavericks.
Beaubois, a native of Guadeloupe, has struggled with injuries throughout his career.
Bradley revealed before the game that he re-injured his right ankle this month by trying to return to action too quickly after spraining that same ankle last month.
When asked how he hurt that ankle again this month, Bradley said, “Just playing on it, continuing to make it more inflamed.”
Bradley missed five games in January. He returned to play in three of the Celtics’ next four games in early February before returning to the sideline.
It marked yet another setback for Bradley, who has been sidelined for one reason or another for much of his NBA career, which is in its fourth season.
“Having another setback, another year – it has been hard on me,” Bradley said. “All I can do is get healthy and try to get back as soon as possible.”
Bradley said he doesn’t know when he’ll return and cautioned against saying that he’s even close. More than anything, he’s leery of returning too soon again.
“We don’t want to irritate it anymore and go back to where I started at,” he said. “We’re just taking our time and letting everything calm down.”
Bradley said he has wondered why he has suffered so many injuries, including having surgery on both his shoulders.
“Yes, of course, but at the same time, I play so hard, I know that injuries like this can happen sometimes,” he said.
“Twisting your ankle, that’s part of the game. I’m not really worried about it. I know that nothing is broke or anything. I’m fine. All I have to do is get better so I can help my team.”