Garnett won’t be on the floor Friday night as the C’s take on the Charlotte Bobcats at the TD Garden, as he still needs one more weekend of rest to get over a strained calf muscle. O’Neal encountered yet another flareup in his chronically sore left knee, and he’s out for the time being. Thus, the door opens for a pair of unheralded rookies, Semih Erden and Luke Harangody, to pick up the slack in the absence of their veteran teammates.
Harangody had a breakout game last week, coming out of nowhere with career highs of 17 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in a win over the Toronto Raptors. The Notre Dame alum has risen into the role of backup power forward in KG’s absence and last Friday proved his staying power in that role.
As for Erden, the big breakout came this week. The Turkish rookie notched his own career highs of 10 points, nine boards and two steals in the Celtics’ win Wednesday over the Kings — with one O’Neal injured, Erden is now the primary backup for the other O’Neal — 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal.
Doc Rivers and the Celtics didn’t expect to use either rookie for any significant amount of time this season. But out of necessity, the C’s have found a role for both.
Look for the two rookies and the rest of the Celtics’ second unit to play a big role Friday night. The C’s take on the Bobcats at 7:30 p.m.