Celtics will be missing three starters

Updated: January 1, 2010, 11:35 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Losers of three straight, the Boston Celtics will be without three starters -- Paul Pierce (right knee infection), Kevin Garnett (hyperextended right knee) and Rajon Rondo (sore left hamstring) -- for Saturday's home game against the Toronto Raptors, coach Doc Rivers said at Friday's practice.

Pierce
Pierce
Garnett
Garnett

"We're going to hold a lottery tonight [to determine the starting lineup]," Rivers joked. "We'll put some balls in and see what comes out. We'll have a guard lottery, and a big-man lottery, then like a small forward lottery."

While nothing is etched in stone, and Rivers was careful to avoid tipping his hand, word spilled that second-year guard J.R. Giddens is likely to join a starting lineup that should also feature Ray Allen, Tony Allen, Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins.

The Celtics are also expected to have the services of Glen Davis, who suffered a mild right ankle sprain in a loss to Golden State Monday. He sat out Wednesday's loss to the Suns, but practiced Friday and said he'll suit up against Toronto.

Davis did note that it's actually his shooting hand, as he continues to recover from surgery for a fractured right thumb, that remains his biggest issue, maybe even more so than his ankle.

"We need help," said Davis, celebrating his 24th birthday Friday. "As long as I'm able to function, I'll play."

Rondo sat out practice Saturday with a sore left hamstring, which he aggravated during the first two games out West earlier this week.

While Rivers praised his point guard for a gutsy effort (13 points, 8 assists) against Phoenix, he noted after watching film how much the injury limited Rondo. The speedy guard watched practice from the sideline Friday with his left leg elevated on a table.

Garnett sat out Wednesday's game against the Suns after being kicked in his surgically repaired right knee by Golden State's Monta Ellis during Monday's loss. Nursing a hyperextension, Garnett will miss Saturday's game and get extended rest, as the Celtics don't play again until Jan. 6 in Miami. Rivers said earlier this week that Garnett's current injury has nothing to do with the one that ended his season this past spring.

Rivers stressed that, while there's no exact date for Garnett's return, that doesn't mean the injury is any more serious than the team is letting on.

"It won't be that long," said Rivers. "When I did this, I looked at the schedule and the days off, and I thought this was the time to do it."

It wasn't pre-planned, but when Garnett got kicked in his knee -- which Rivers said actually happened twice in losses to the Warriors and Clippers -- he decided to give Garnett a break.

"It's a freak accident," said Rivers. "Kevin's just as frustrated as anybody; hyperextended his knee on a play that happened in two different games. It's virtually impossible. Both times he got off his feet and someone kicked his leg ... It's not a serious injury, but if you don't take care of it, especially in Kevin's case, he'll compensate and then injure himself. I'm not taking that chance."

Pierce underwent an arthroscopic procedure to drain fluid from his right knee a week and a half ago. Rivers indicated that they'll reevaluate Pierce, who did not practice Friday, with an eye toward a potential return against Miami next week.

Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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