Rivers: Shaq doubtful for Game 5

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Rivers: Shaq doubtful for Game 5

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MIAMI So much for that lift the Boston Celtics were supposed to get from Shaquille O'Neal off the bench.

Coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday morning that the 7-foot-1 center re-aggravated his right Achillescalf injury in Game 4 and is doubtful to play in tonight's pivotal Game 5.

Boston trails 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, and will be eliminated if the Heat win.

O'Neal played less than four minutes - all in the first half - of Boston's 98-90 overtime loss to the Heat.

"That little stretch in the first half, it just got worse," Rivers said.

Rivers added, "It's nothing he can do. It's not like he isn't trying. He's done everything you can possibly do to get healthy. Unfortunately for him, he just hasn't been able to do it."

O'Neal first began missing games because of the injury back in December.

At first, the C's didn't think it was that big a deal, with him expected to only miss a handful of games.

After sitting out four games with a calf injury in December, O'Neal returned to play in 17 straight before re-aggravating the injury against Utah on Jan. 21.

From there, O'Neal missed three games, returned to play in three straight, and once again, the right calfAchilles bothered him to the point where he could not play.

Concerned that his injury might linger into the postseason, the Celtics opted to shut him down for the next 27 games.

His return on April 3 against Detroit was a short-lived one, as O'Neal once again re-aggravated the right leg injuries after logging about five minutes of action.

He played sparingly in Games 3 and 4 against Miami, but had little to no impact on the outcome of either game.

"It just never healed, and still hasn't," Rivers said. "Every time he plays now, it gets worse. There's nothing you can do about it."

As the oldest player in the NBA this season, it stands to reason that O'Neal may very well never play in the NBA again.

He signed a two-year deal with the Celtics last fall, with an option to come back for a second season.

The way his body has broken down this season, the choice may have already been made for him.

"It's too early to talk about it now," Rivers said. "I've learned personally you never make any decisions during the heat of battle. You're always gong to make the wrong choice. I think he'll walk away for the summer, and decide what he wants to do. I just know this has been emotionally draining to him, more than you guys would know. He feels awful about this. This is why he came here, to get to the playoffs. And not being able to do that, has really hurt him."

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

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

WALTHAM, Mass. – When it comes to NBA standings, no Celtic pays closer attention to it than Isaiah Thomas.
 
But the 5-foot-9 All-Star is quick to say that while he’s aware of what’s happening with other teams record-wise, Thomas, like his teammates, isn’t obsessed with it, even with the Celtics (48-26) now in first place in the East following Cleveland’s loss at San Antonio on Monday.
 
“It’s a good feeling,” Thomas said. “It’s still not the end of the year; anything can happen. It’s a nice feeling to be the number one seed for once, but we just have to continue to control what we can control.”

The fact that Boston is even in position to finish with the best record in the East is amazing when you consider injuries and illnesses have forced them to use 13 different starting lineups this season.
 
And the preferred starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson has played together 31 times and posted an impressive 24-7 record.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been consistent in his message that while having the best record in the East is nice, he’s more consumed with the team continuing to improve.
 
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot right now,” Stevens said of being in first place. “The whole idea is to make progress, get better every day and stay in the moment. You do that if you’re in last place trying to build up or whether you’re in a position where you’re fighting for seeding. Ultimately, we’ve been able to grow and get a little bit better. But I still think we can play a lot better. That’s where my focus is.”
 
And the same holds true for his players. Thomas knows how unusual this season has been for the Celtics, who continue finding ways to win despite frequently being short-handed.
 
The latest example of that involves forward Jonas Jerebko, who is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee because of a sore left knee that limited him in Tuesday’s practice.
 
“It’s a long season. A lot of things can happen whether they be good or bad and we know that,” Thomas said. “We just try to withstand the storm we’ve had a few times this year, and continue to try and stay as positive as possible and we’ve done that. We’re in a good position right now. We just have to continue to take care of business.”
  
And that means steadily improving while piling up the wins, particularly against teams such as the Bucks (37-36), who are among a handful of teams that could potentially be Boston’s first-round opponent.
 
Milwaukee comes in having won 11 of its past 14 games.

“It makes the game that much more important,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “Just like the Miami game. We want to let the teams know now, they go up against us in the playoffs, it’s no mercy. We’re going to play hard. We’re going to bring it every single night. We’re going to play Celtics basketball every single night. Them knowing that, we can scare a lot of teams if we’re playing the right way.”

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics have spent most of this season playing short-handed and Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee will potentially be another one of those games.
 
Veteran forward Jonas Jerebko has a sore left knee and is considered questionable for the Bucks’ game.
 
“Jonas went through about half of [Tuesday’s] practice,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
 
Jerebko has missed two games this season due to illness.
 
Because of Milwaukee’s length at seemingly every position, Jerebko’s ability to play both forward positions will be something the Celtics will surely miss if he’s unable to play.
 
This season, Jerebko has appeared in 69 games while averaging 3.9 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 35.0 percent on 3’s.