By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON Shaquille O'Neal made his way into the TD Garden this afternoon, looking fit as ever.
Fit enough to play?
We'll find out soon enough with O'Neal ready to make his return to the Celtics lineup tonight against the Detroit Pistons.
Earlier today, Celtics coach Doc Rivers told CSNNE.com that O'Neal would "probably" play, but added that he would only play limited minutes.
"If he does, it will only be for five, maybe 10 minutes," Rivers said at the time.
Moments ago, Rivers confirmed that O'Neal would play and that he would not only limit his minutes, but also limit the number of games he plays in between now and the playoffs.
"I'm telling you now, I'm not going to play him every night," Rivers told a group of reporters. "I'm going to play him three or four games, and that'll be it. We'll get ready for the playoffs."
O'Neal, out with what's being described as a right leg injury, would provide some much-needed depth for the C's at the center position.
The Celtics recently got Jermaine O'Neal back following surgery ln his left knee. But on the same night of his return, the C's lost Nenad Krstic to a right knee injury.
The Celtics were concerned that Krstic suffered torn ligaments in the knee. But an MRI revealed that he had a bone bruise and his status is now day-to-day.
Although Krstic's exact return remains up in the air, Rivers said there's a chance that Krstic is back in the lineup Tuesday against Philadelphia.
As for O'Neal, his return can not come soon enough for the Celtics.
One of the reasons the C's traded away Kendrick Perkins in February was because they felt that S. O'Neal would give them the inside presence they needed to finish out this season strong, and adequately prepare them for the playoffs.
However, his injuries - he has had right foot, calf and Achilles Tendon issues - have taken longer to heal than initially thought.