Celtics shake off the rust after long layoff


Celtics shake off the rust after long layoff

By A.Sherrod Blakely

WALTHAM A couple days off does the body good, especially when that body has logged as many miles as most of these Boston Celtics players.

But having not done anything basketball-related as a team since Sunday, does have its downside.

Additional time to heal up some of the many bumps and bruises will definitely benefit the Celtics. But there is some concern that they won't be in a good rhythm when the second round of the playoffs begin Sunday in Miami.

"This is a cobweb day, get all the cobwebs out," said forward Glen Davis. "We've been chillin' for a couple days, getting a lot of rest; get our rhythm back together with each other."

Having so much time off in between playoff series is relatively foreign to most of the Celtics.

It isn't to starting center Jermaine O'Neal, who recalls in 2004 being part of an Indiana Pacers team that swept the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

"We put them away so fast, we ended up having a week, almost two weeks off," said O'Neal, whose Indiana team that season went on to the Eastern Conference finals and lost to eventual NBA champion Detroit Pistons. "Sometimes you just have to watch a lot of film, kind of remind yourself what you should do and when you get back in practice, be as competitive as possible."

For O'Neal, the days off have helped his sore left wrist heal without having to worry about re-aggravating it in practice or a game.

"It feels good," O'Neal said of the injury. "I'm just going to protect it. I wear a brace. I'm kind of superstitious now. I even wear the brace at home when I don't even need it. You just want to be healthy going into the next round and not have any hiccups."

One Celtics player whose health remains a mystery is Shaquille O'Neal.

Coach Doc Rivers was asked if Shaq, who will not practice on Wednesday or Thursday, had suffered a setback to the right triceps surae complex injury to his right calf and Achilles.

"No, not at all," Rivers told CSNNE.com. "He's actually had a very good week. He's still improving, but when the medical staff says he's ready, he's ready."

With Shaq unable to practice, it has meant more time with the first unit for Jermaine O'Neal, whose defensive presence was among the contributing factors to the Celtics sweeping the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

"He's been a godsend," Rivers said of J. O'Neal. "I could not have asked for anything better."

Between now and Game 1 of the C's second-round series, Rivers will continue to implement nuances to their various offensive and defensive sets, in addition to fine-tuning what they already do well.

Rivers said having this time off without a definitive game to play, is similar to what they have to do during training camp.

"When you start training camp, you don't really have an opponent," Rivers said. "Really just trying to work on all your stuff. We have the opportunity to do that, with rest. So that's good."

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