BOSTON Jermaine O'Neal left the floor early in Boston's 81-73 win over Toronto, a scene that has never had a happy ending for him or the Celtics.
Not to worry, Celtics Nation.
O'Neal having a limited role on Wednesday was part of the game plan coming in, according to Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.
"I told Jermaine before the game that we were going to play Greg (Stiemsma) a lot," Rivers said. "We're going to try and get (Chris) Wilcox in that one little stretch in the second half. So I told him he wasn't going to play a lot."
But even with his minutes limited, there was no mistaking the impact that he made on defense.
O'Neal played less than 12 minutes, but still racked up four blocked shots and as well as a charge.
"His blocked shots, his timing, they're just amazing," Rivers said. "He looks great. What you saw is what he's been all camp. You rarely see a guy that blocks shots and takes charges. He does both. that's just unusual."
Celtics guard Keyon Dooling played with the Milwaukee Bucks last season, and said he considers Bucks center Andrew Bogut as a player like O'Neal in terms of having the ability to block shots and draw charges.
Still, Dooling recognizes that players who excel at both are rare.
"It's awesome to have guys like JO at this point in their career," Dooling said. "Where he understands the game, he understands his body, he understands what he can and can't do. He led our team in the preseason with charges. That's something that's very undervalued in our league, and that's points in the paint that he's taking away. He's going to be very important, especially with our lack of a lot of size."
Dooling added, "It really does something special for you team when you have a guy at the rim who can not only block shots but take charges, given the opportunity. It definitely brings an added dimension for us."