By A. Sherrod Blakely
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.