Celtics win, but -- again -- lose Shaq


Celtics win, but -- again -- lose Shaq

By A. Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON Prior to Boston's 101-90 win over Detroit on Sunday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers opted to play Shaquille O'Neal with the goal being to limit his minutes.

But this is not what he had in mind.

O'Neal returned to action and looked good in his six minutes on the floor, only to suffer yet another injury (right calf strain) that will sideline him indefinitely.

So even as Paul Pierce (22 points) and Kevin Garnett (23 points, 8 rebounds) looked good in Sunday's win, all the talk afterward was about the big fella who won't be playing big minutes - or any minutes, most likely - any time soon.

O'Neal was running up the court early in the second quarter. He began limping. O'Neal eventually hobbled over towards the Celtics bench and needed some help getting back to the locker room.

Team trainer Ed Lacerte helped him off the floor. They were soon joined by other members of the Celtics medical staff in the tunnel area near the Celtics bench.

There was great concern at first that O'Neal, who was out with a right Achilles tendon injury, had re-aggravated his sore Achilles tendon or even worst, ruptured it.

But all indications by the C's are that the right calf injury suffered by O'Neal isn't that serious.

"It's not a bad strain, but it's a strain," Rivers said. "Similar to the one Von Wafe had, but not even close to the severity."

Wafer missed 13 games because of the injury.

When asked how long would O'Neal be out, Rivers responded, "I don't know, is the answer. I don't think very long, honestly. That's what the team's medical staff thought, that it's very minor. It scared him more than anything. I'm sure with the calf, he thought Achilles right away. but we'll see."

Jermaine O'Neal, who has had his share of injuries this season, believes Shaq will be back quickly.

"I think he may be out here on Tuesday against the Sixers, but we'll see," said O'Neal. "He was laughing and joking; I think it was more of a scare for the guys on the team and the fans of the Celtics."

Even before the injury, Rivers indicated Shaquille O'Neal would miss some games between now and the start of the playoffs.

Now, the C's have no choice.

But his injury complicates Rivers' plan.

The coach wants to make sure O'Neal doesn't overdue it between now and the playoffs, but he understands the C's really need Shaq on the floor if for no other reason than to develop better chemistry for both the starters and second unit.

The Celtics did get a bit of good news on Sunday, with Nenad Krstic potentially back in the lineup as early as Tuesday's game against Philadelphia. He suffered a bone bruise in his right knee against San Antonio on Thursday.

Boston is now starting Jermaine O'Neal at center.

And like most of Boston's centers, he's had his share of injuries this season as well.

In fact, Sunday was just his 20th game of the season after missing most of the year following surgery to his left knee.

Against the Pistons, Jermaine O'Neal played 17 minutes while scoring five points to go with six rebounds.

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

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Following Thursday’s 105-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics will be on the prowl to rebound – literally – from its first defeat of the season.

Because for all that did not go right in Thursday night’s loss, the way Boston was beaten on the boards stands out emphatically.

“They got 24 more shots than us. We only turned it over (12) times,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. “So that’s the obvious place they’re getting their possessions, on the glass. That’s going to be the number one thing, that has been the number one thing. It’s something we’ve talked about. We have to get better at it.”


Boston was out-rebounded 55-36 on the boards which heavily factored into Chicago’s 18-5 advantage in second-chance points.

In the Celtics' 122-117 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday, Boston won the overall rebounding battle 47-44, but had just 12 offensive rebounds compared to Brooklyn's 15 offensive boards. Despite the close margin, the Nets won the battle on the offensive glass running away, outscoring the Celtics 23-13 in second-chance points.

Stevens decided to start Tyler Zeller ahead of Amir Johnson to begin the third quarter, hoping Zeller would be a better matchup on the glass than Johnson who did not grab a single rebound in the 11 minutes of court time he got in the first half.

While Zeller did do a few good things on the glass and scoring in half-court sets, it wasn’t enough to swing the momentum Chicago was steadily gaining due to its ability to control the boards.

“I wasn’t real surprised but at the same time I knew it could happen,” Zeller told reporters, referring to Stevens’ decision to have him start the second half. “They did a good job of coming out and setting the tone. They beat us up on the boards, especially the first half. It’s something we have to get better at and continue to grow at.”

And it’s not a one-player or one-position issue, either.

Usually we think of bigs when it comes to rebounding. But Boston’s guards need to step up their rebounding game as well.

The struggles thus far have to be put in the context of this being just two games, the latter being the season opener for the Bulls who were jacked up more than usual due to it being the first game for Chicago native Dwyane Wade and ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo.

“We have to focus on boxing out,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Guards have to do a better job. Guys like me, Al (Horford), Amir (Johnson), Tyler (Zeller) ... We have to do a good job of coming in the weak side and grabbing those; just focus on it, pay more attention to detail.”