Celtics

'Healthy Celtics' have been a depressingly rare sight this season

'Healthy Celtics' have been a depressingly rare sight this season

The good news: Monday night was proof that the 2019-20 Boston Celtics can be really, really good when fully healthy.

The bad news: The 2019-20 Celtics are rarely fully healthy.

Monday's 139-107 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers was just the 16th time this season the Celtics' "Big Four" of Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have shared the court together.

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That number will stay at 16 on Wednesday night -- Brown has been ruled out against the Memphis Grizzlies due to an ankle sprain -- meaning the Celtics will have had their "Big Four" active for just 37 percent of their games (16 of 43).

Add in the time Marcus Smart has missed (nine games in December due to an eye infection) and that number drops to 11 games (25 percent) in which the C's have had their five most important players.

"It’s all part of it," head coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday about playing undermanned. "A lot of people are going through it. You deal with it as well as you can. It’s a great opportunity.

"The last game we basically played eight guys in the rotation, but I trust everybody else that didn’t get in. Great opportunity for those guys."

Monday's near-perfect game aside -- Tatum, Walker, Brown and Hayward combined for 83 points -- the Celtics actually have played better shorthanded: They're 10-6 when Walker, Hayward, Tatum and Brown all play and 18-8 when at least one of those players is sidelined.

That's a testament to Smart, who scored 15 points or more in eight of the 12 games Hayward missed earlier this season, and Boston's bench, which has been inconsistent but received timely contributions from the likes of Enes Kanter, Brad Wanamaker and Grant Williams.

"As professionals, we have to be able to adjust," Smart said Wednesday. "Jaylen’s out, that doesn’t mean we have to ... not play the way we’ve been playing. Especially after the Lakers game, we have to continue to strive for that type of game every night, regardless of who’s on the court."

Wednesday presents another test for the "Hospital Celtics," who dropped two games without Brown last week and face a Grizzlies team that's won seven of its last eight games.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), Boston has plenty of experience playing with a short bench.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Grizzlies-Celtics, which begins Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Isaiah Thomas recalls Celtics' attempt at 'Funeral Game' vs. Wizards

Isaiah Thomas recalls Celtics' attempt at 'Funeral Game' vs. Wizards

The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards had an entertaining rivalry going throughout the 2016-17 NBA season, and but it really escalated on January 24, 2017.

Wizards players showed up to the Verizon Center that night wearing all black ahead of their matchup against the C's. Washington went on to win 123-108, and John Wall dubbed it the "Celtics' funeral."

Boston didn't forget that when the two teams met months later in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

With his Celtics up 3-2 in the thrilling second-round series, Isaiah Thomas decided they were going to have a "Funeral Game" of their own. Boston showed up wearing all black, then proceeded to lose in Game 6 thanks to a game-winning 3-pointer from Wall.

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I.T. recalled the C's attempt at their own "Funeral Game" on the latest episode of NBC Sports Washington's Wizards Talk Podcast.

"I send a text out to everybody before we leave Boston," Thomas said. "Everybody wear black because we're going to a funeral and we're gonna end it [in Washington].

"Nobody knew but the players," he said. "So then everyone wore black and when everybody walked in, people started to talk. Then when we ended up losing and John hitting the game-winner and him doing the interview after he's like, 'Don't ever wear black in my city.' I'm like [busts out laughing]."

Apparently, the rivalry was even more intense than it looked. Thomas maintained close friendships with multiple players on the 2016-17 Wizards team but with all that transpired, he wasn't sure those relationships would last.

"John [Wall] is one of my close friends, like, I didn't even talk to John in the series," he said. "Markieff [Morris] is one of my close friends too from when we played on Phoenix and during that series, I didn't think we would ever talk again with how crazy it got."

Listen to the full interview below (Funeral Game talk begins at 14:14 mark):

It probably would be a more sensitive subject for I.T. had the series not ended up going in the Celtics' favor. Boston pulled off a 115-105 win with Thomas notching 29 points and 12 assists in what ended up being the Wizards' real funeral in Game 7.

That offseason, Thomas was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the deal that brought Kyrie Irving to Boston. He since has played for the Lakers, Nuggets, and coincidentally, the Wizards. Now, I.T. is a free agent and Irving is teamed up with Kevin Durant on the Brooklyn Nets.

Wall, Bradley Beal, and Ian Mahinmi are the only players from that 2016-17 Wizards team still with Washington. Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown are the only ones left on the C's.

Who are the best shooting guards in Celtics history? Ranking the Top 10

Who are the best shooting guards in Celtics history? Ranking the Top 10

The shooting guard position isn’t all that different than the others when it comes to the Boston Celtics. 

They have had a slew of elite-level players to man the position through generations of great basketball, picking up individual awards, honors and of course, championships. 

So naturally, whittling down the all-time great shooting guards to just 10 for the most storied franchise in NBA history is a task that’s easier said than done. 

Click here for the gallery.