Celtics decide to sit Jermaine O'Neal

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Celtics decide to sit Jermaine O'Neal

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON And now for the latest installment of Strategic rest: The April Edition.

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers has elected to hold Jermaine O'Neal out of tonight's game against Washington.

"He wanted to play, but I didn't think he should play," Rivers said.

O'Neal, who has played relatively well in the five games since returning to the Celtics lineup following Feb. 5 surgery on his left knee, does not appear to have suffered any kind of relapse or some other type of injury.

"He's played a bunch of games," Rivers said.

After tonight, the Celtics play three games in four days and O'Neal has told Rivers he wants to play in all three games.

"I thought this would be a good game for him to sit," Rivers said.

Replacing O'Neal in the starting lineup will be Nenad Krstic, who has 18 starts this season for the Celtics since he was acquired via trade from Oklahoma City on Feb. 24.

When O'Neal does return, it's unclear if his minutes will increase.

Since returning to the lineup, he has averaged 15 minutes per game.

Although Rivers wouldn't commit to playing O'Neal more, he did say that he has to tweak the way he has handled his minutes.

"The only thing I would do better or different with J.O., is we're sitting him too long," Rivers said. "So I'm going ot try and play we only play him about five, six minutes in a row. And do it five minutes sit, play him again. That might be easier for him."

In other injury-related news, the Celtics have no timetable for when Shaquille O'Neal (right calf) will return to the floor.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Raptors missing Lowry in first half

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Raptors missing Lowry in first half

TORONTO -- Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half which ended with the Boston Celtics ahead 55-45 over the Toronto Raptors.

STARS

DeMar DeRozan

Playing without Kyle Lowry (right wrist), DeRozan made the most of what, not surprisingly, were a few more shot attempts. He led all scorers with 19 first-half points on 7-for-13 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

The strong play by Thomas prior to the All-Star break, hasn't gone anywhere. He led the Celtics with 11 points in the first half on 3-for-7 shooting along with four assists.

 

STUDS

Jonas Valanciunas

Boston had problems throughout the first half keeping him off the boards as he tallied five points and a game-high six rebounds.

Jaylen Brown

The rookie showed a heightened level of maturity at both ends of the floor, scoring 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting.

 

DUDS

Corey Joseph

We all know he's not Kyle Lowry, but he has to do a better job of filling in for the All-Star than what we saw in the first half if the Raptors are to have any shot at rallying tonight. He was scoreless in 17 minutes, missing all three of his shots from the field. 

Olynyk staying active, hopes to continue recent success on the boards

Olynyk staying active, hopes to continue recent success on the boards

TORONTO – Kelly Olynyk has a diverse skillset, one that has made him a fixture in the Boston Celtics’ rotation.

Boston has come to expect him to provide some offense and good playmaking, but lately he has given them what they desperately need – rebounds.

While this is still Boston’s greatest weakness, the recent play of Olynyk when it comes to the boards provides a glimmer of hope that maybe just maybe, rebounding won’t be such hindrance to this group.

Boston (37-20) will certainly need that tonight as they take on the Toronto Raptors, a team that got a lot stronger with the addition of Serge Ibaka – another really good rebounder – from Orlando shortly before the trade deadline.

As for Olynyk, he attributes his recent success on the boards as just being more active once the ball is in the air.

In addition, he’s tired of hearing about how bad the Celtics have been on the boards.

They come into tonight’s game ranked among the league’s bottom-10 in just about every rebounding statistical category of note.

* Rebounds per game (41.2, 28th in the NBA)

* Rebound percentage (.479, 27th)

* Defensive rebound percentage (.747, 29th)

“We’ve struggled rebounding all year,” Olynyk said. “I’ve focused my game of late to help shore up that. It’s just a matter of being more active, put your work in early, get the initial contact and get guys off.”

In Boston’s last eight games, Olynyk has averaged 7.0 rebounds per game while still scoring at a decent 13.6 points per game clip off the bench.

For the season, he’s averaging 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

Of course, you can’t count on Olynyk to take on the lion’s share of the rebounding for the Celtics.

But to his credit, he’s finding a way to do a better job on the glass of late compared to how he has fared overall this season.

And by doing so, it gives Celtics Nation hope that the team’s front office made the right decision to keep this group intact rather than go out and trade for a rebounding big man.

Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, has expressed concern that adding a player whose strength was rebounding only might do more harm than good due to its impact on an offense that ranks among the league’s best this season.

Olynyk echoed similar sentiments.

“We’re second in the East now, a couple games back and on a good roll with great chemistry. Everybody likes each other, playing for each other,” Olynyk told CSNNE.com. “That’s a rarity sometimes. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it."