Celtics notes: Jermaine practices; Shaq sits

Celtics notes: Jermaine practices; Shaq sits

By Jessica Camerato

WALTHAM - There were new faces on the court during Celtics practice on Saturday and one noticeable absentee. Jermaine O'Neal and Avery Bradley returned from injuries to practice with the team, while Shaquille O'Neal sat this one out.

Shaq was bothered by his hips and stayed off the court. "That'll be an issue, on and off at times," said coach Doc Rivers. "We're prepared for that."

As for Jermaine O'Neal, he completed the Celtics' two-hour practice after being sidelined by a sore left hamstring. He admitted he was tired but was happy to be on the court with his new teammates. The Celtics had been looking forward to playing alongside him.

"It was very good having JO back out there," said Kevin Garnett. "If we're going to be anything this year, we're going to need his contributions. He looked really good today. He looked explosive. A good day."

Rivers says Jermaine O'Neal will be a game-time decision for Sunday's match against the Toronto Raptors.

Rivers expects Delonte West to play on Sunday after the guard left Thursday's game against the New Jersey Nets with discomfort in his lower back. "He practiced. He went through the whole practice as well, so everybody was good," said Rivers, adding, "He'll play, unless something happens, but I think he'll play."

Avery Bradley completed his first full practice with the team after undergoing ankle surgery over the summer. The rookie had been anxious to hit the court with the Celtics after watching from a distance.

"I just wanted to gain their respect," he told CSNNE.com. "I hadn't really got out on the court, so today that's what I wanted to do. Go out there and practice hard and show them that I'm with them."

Bradley tried to push his ankle and was pleasantly surprised that he could run up and down with the team and make certain cuts that he wasn't sure he could make. "It went very well," he said.

He doesn't know when he can play in a game and is taking it "day by day."

Bradley and fellow rookie Luke Harangody were the last players to leave the court after practice.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcamerato

Smart yet to be ruled out of Celtics’ opener


Smart yet to be ruled out of Celtics’ opener

WALTHAM, Mass. – Marcus Smart remains out with a left ankle sprain injury sustained earlier this week, but has yet to be ruled out for the season opener against Brooklyn next week.

An MRI came back negative on Smart’s ankle, which was good news.

But there’s still a high level of uncertainty as to whether Smart will heal in time for the team’s opener at home against Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

He sprained the left ankle in the second quarter of a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday when he stepped on the foot of Knicks guard Justin Holiday.

Smart fell to the floor and was helped to his feet by teammates Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas in addition to the team’s head trainer Ed Lacerte.

The Celtics are indeed hopeful he will heal in time to play next week, but league sources indicate it’s doubtful due to the nature of the injury and Smart’s history with left ankle sprains.

He sustained one in his rookie season and it kept him out for several weeks and he has had a few minor ankle sprains since then.

Even if he shows signs of being healthy enough to play prior to the opener, the Celtics are likely to be overly cautious to best insure that when he does return he does not re-aggravate the ankle.

Smart appeared in all seven preseason games for the Celtics this season, averaging 8.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Smart shot 42 percent from the field, but struggled mightily from 3-point range while connecting on just 13.6 percent of his 3-point shot attempts.

If Smart is unable to play in the opener or potentially longer, look for the Celtics to lean heavily on Terry Rozier who has been the breakout performer for Boston in the summer and in camp.

“I’m just trying to do whatever they need me to do, to help us win games,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “I’m feeling good, real good about where my game’s at now. Obviously we’re a better team in every way, with Marcus out there. But if he’s not ready to go, the next man up has to get the job done. If that’s me, it’s me. I’ll be ready.”