Shaq with Celtics, questionable for Game 4

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Shaq with Celtics, questionable for Game 4

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK And now for the latest installment of, 'As the Shaquille O'Neal injury drama turns,' a team official told CSNNE.com that O'Neal will in fact travel with the team to New York.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said earlier that O'Neal was definitely out for Game 3 of Boston's first-round playoff series on Friday. However, O'Neal being with the team means that there is at least some thought to him possibly suiting up for Game 4 on Sunday.

"He's had some improvement, but I don't know how much," Rivers said on Wednesday. "If you see him on the trip, he's really close."

Prior to the team departing for New York Thursday afternoon, O'Neal was expected to do some work to see if his injury had improved enough to where it would be worthwhile to bring him to New York.

Rivers told CSNNE.com following Wednesday's film session that O'Neal was being fitted for some equipment that could ease some of the pain upon his return, a signal that the C's are very much anticipating him returning to the lineup soon.

"Obviously, if he goes on the trip we think he might play that Sunday, but we're not sure."

O'Neal has not played since April 1 against Detroit.

After missing the previous 27 games, O'Neal played less than six minutes against the Pistons before the right leg injury flared up once again.

Celtics physician Dr. Brian McKeon said that the three muscles in the triceps surae complex of his right leg are all sore.

"This is a tough injury," said Dr. McKeon. "The blood supply in this area is so weak and so poor it needs time. I was telling Danny (Ainge, the C's president of basketball operations) and the coaches, in the last 20 years of medicine this is one area we have made no progress. It's just time. It's hard to get enough healing potential in that area."

Not having O'Neal is nothing new for the Celtics.

The future Hall of Famer has played in a career-low 37 games this season.

While there are some who believe the Celtics have just been overly cautious with O'Neal, Rivers is quick to say that the reason O'Neal isn't playing is because he simply isn't healthy enough to go.

"He'll come back when he's ready to come back, and not a moment sooner," Rivers told CSNNE.com.

Based on the way their first-round series with the Knicks has gone, there doesn't seem to be an overwhelming sense of urgency to bring O'Neal back.

The C's have had their problems rebounding, and having O'Neal back would certainly help in that area.

That's why Game 3 on Friday is so pivotal not only for the teams, but it may impact how soon O'Neal returns.

If the Celtics win Game 3 and take a 3-0 lead, Boston might be less inclined to bring him back in a decisive Game 4 and instead be more focused on having him ready to go in the next round with the opponent most likely being the Miami Heat.

Rivers isn't thinking that far ahead.

"I just want to get through the next game," Rivers said. "And after that, the game after that. The game at hand, that's the only game that counts."

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.