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

Isaiah Thomas still unsure whether hip will require surgery

Isaiah Thomas still unsure whether hip will require surgery

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Isaiah Thomas said it will be at least another month before he and the Boston Celtics will know for sure if he’ll need surgery on his right hip or an alternative means of treatment.

“Take it day by day and whatever happens in the next four to six weeks, then go from there and attack that as is,” Thomas said on Friday.

Thomas took a hard spill on his right hip against Minnesota on March 15, and re-aggravated the injury during Boston’s second-round series against Washington. The Celtics’ medical staff treated the injury for several weeks, but the pain began to increase and the potential risk of it becoming a long-term problem only grew.

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In the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss to Cleveland in the conference finals, the hip began to severely limit his play which was evident by him scoring two points in the first half of that game while missing all six of his shots from the field.

The Celtics medical team examined him at halftime and determined that in the best interest of his long-term health, he had to be shut down for the rest of the playoffs.

Needless to say, that did not go over well with Thomas.

“They had multiple people come in and talk to me about what’s more important,” Thomas recalled. “I definitely wasn’t trying to hear that at that point in time.”

Not only because of his competitive nature, but also because the Celtics were in the Conference finals for the first time since 2012.

“Conference finals, that’s the biggest stage I’ve ever been on,” Thomas said. “To not be able to go back out there in the second half … was painful; it hurt me.”

Now Thomas finds himself having to be patient and allow his body to heal up, realizing the big picture – his future – has to take precedence over what he’s accustomed to this time of year which is to take a couple weeks off and get right back in the gym to start working on his game and prepping for next season.

Not only is this a big summer in terms of him getting his body right, but he’s also eligible for a contract extension.

When asked about an extension, Thomas quipped, “That means more money? I’d love that.”

He added, “if it don’t happen, I'm the last person to be bothered by that. I know everything happens for a reason. So when my time comes, I know … God will bless me.”

The two-time all-star will earn just $6.26 million in the final year of the four-year, $27 million deal he signed in 2014 with Phoenix.

While being hurt isn’t ideal when talks center around an extension, Thomas isn’t overly concerned about his contract status and whether or not it changes this summer.

“That time will come. Whatever happens, happens,” Thomas said. “I’ve proved myself. The world knows what I bring to the table. I can’t do anything to control anything else. Whatever happens this summer with contracts, it happens. If not, we’ll wait until next summer and see where we go.”

While his contract status may be unclear, there’s no mistaking that Thomas wants to stay in Boston long-term.

“Boston has changed my career, changed my life,” said Thomas who came to Boston via trade in February of 2015. “I’d love to be here long-term and win championships here. As you guys know it’s a business; anything can happen. And I know that, I understand that. I would love to be here. This has been everything to me.”