By A. Sherrod Blakely
WALTHAM The Boston Celtics got a bit of good news on the injury front Sunday when the MRI results for Rajon Rondo came back negative.
Rondo suffered a dislocated left elbow in the third quarter, but somehow managed to return to the floor at the start of the fourth to help propel the Celtics to a 97-81 Game 3 victory.
When coach Doc Rivers was asked about Rondo's elbow, he said: "It hurts. And obviously it was far more painful today in some ways; a lot of swelling. That was expected."
Even with the MRI results coming back negative, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll see him play his usual minutes, or even at all.
"If he can play, how well can he play, and can he help our team?" Rivers said when asked what criteria will be used to determine if Rondo will participate in Game 4 Monday night. "We're not going to do anything, number one, to hurt the player. And we're not going to do anything to hurt the team. It may not be until game time, it may not be until in the game, that we find out (if he can play). Either one of those would be awful, but right now that may be the case."
The Celtics also have some concern about Rondo's backup Delonte West, who suffered a left shoulder injury in the first half of Boston's Game 3 victory, which cut the Heat's lead in the best-of-seven series, to 2-1.
West finished with 11 points off the Celtics bench - tops among C's reserves.
While West still has some soreness, it does not appear to be severe enough to limit him from at least playing in Game 4 on Monday.
"Delonte's injury, I think it'll come down to what he can tolerate," Rivers said.
Rivers said Shaquille O'Neal, who returned to the lineup for the first time since April 3, had some swelling as well.
"I think he's going to have that for the rest of his years," Rivers said.
Throughout the regular season, the Celtics have been dealing with an assortment of injuries.
So to have a number of key players banged up during the playoffs, that's just par for the course, for this Celtics team.
"If they're on the floor, we're healthy," Rivers said. "That's been my motto since I've been here, and our guys believe that. If you're in uniform, you're healthy. We'll make no excuses Monday . . . it's a playoff game. It's Game 4. We have to win. That's all we need to think about."