The Celtics will not win all 36 games remaining on their schedule. They will have to withstand defeats.

But the loss they suffered yesterday when Jared Sullinger underwent season-ending back surgery — coming just days after Rajon Rondo was ruled out for the year with a torn ACL — makes anything that happens on the scoreboard the rest of the way pretty much moot.

With Rondo gone, the Celts had to become a team that ran and scrapped for some extra points under the hoop. With Sullinger's exit, they have now lost their best (at times only) inside garbage point scrapper.

"Well, it's a tough blow, especially coming on the heels of Rajon's injury," said president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. "I mean, it's a tough blow. Jared's been our best rebounder. He's a complete player, and he's going to be tough to replace."

In that regard, the Celtics are now down to 11 healthy bodies. There are 13 on the roster with a 15-player maximum. The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 21.

"We have two open roster spots, which we will use when it's all said and done," said Ainge. "So three weeks from now, we will have 13 contracts. But we're not in a rush yet. We have trade possibilities, and we'll be keeping an eye on the free agents that might be able to help us.

"By the trade deadline date, we will have a full roster one way or another."

Added Ainge: "I've always said this is an opportunity league, and players that get opportunities step up and show what they're capable of doing. Sometimes they're drowned out by the other players for lack of opportunity. So this is a chance for us to see what they're made of."

Fab Melo was active last night but, according to Doc Rivers, we are bound to see more of some familiar names for a while.

"We have to be a small-ball team," he said. "We'll start big with Brandon (Bass) and Kevin (Garnett) .?.?. I don't know if that's big, but that's how we'll start. And then we just have to put our five best players on the floor and be creative."