Celtics win, but -- again -- lose Shaq

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Celtics win, but -- again -- lose Shaq

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

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

Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

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Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Pinpointing the exact moment Al Horford made up his mind to become a Boston Celtics isn’t clear, but the seeds of that decision can be traced back to last year’s playoffs – and no we’re not talking about the playoff series between Boston and Atlanta, either.
 
It was the Hawk’s second-round playoff series back in May against Cleveland, a team that swept them out of the Conference finals in 2015 and did so again last about five months ago.
 
Horford had every intention of returning to Atlanta, but as the free agency period wore on two things became quite clear: Winning an NBA title would have to go through Cleveland and it happening with him in Atlanta was becoming more and more unlikely.
 
In came the Celtics with a pitch that was heavy on present-day and down-the-road potential that wouldn’t require him to do anything other than continue to play the way he has for the past nine seasons.
 
“It (becoming a Celtic) became real for me real late and real quick,” Horford told CSNNE.com on Wednesday.
 
After mulling it over for a couple days, Horford said he was ready to become a Celtic.
 
“This could be a great opportunity even though I’m leaving a lot behind,” Horford said.
 
As you listen to Horford speak, it’s clear that the Celtics mystique played a role in his decision to sign with Boston.

 But as much as the Celtics’ lore and its on-the-rise status helped, there were certain events that Boston had no control over that actually helped their cause.
 
First the Hawks got in on a three-team trade in June with Utah and Indiana which sent Hawks All-Star point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers while Atlanta received Utah’s first-round pick which was 12th overall and was used by Atlanta to select Baylor’s Taurean Prince. The move allowed Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder to slide over into the now-vacant starting point guard position.
 
While it may help Atlanta down the road, it did little to move them closer towards knocking off Cleveland anytime soon.
 
And then there was the Hawks coming to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard early in the free agency period. That deal coupled with Atlanta’s desire to bring Kent Bazemore back, cast serious doubt as to whether Horford would return.
 
Horford, who inked a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston, told CSNNE.com that at the time of Atlanta’s deal with Howard, he was still open to the idea of returning.
 
But if Horford did, he knew figuring out the best way to play him, Howard and Paul Millsap who by the way has a player option that he’s likely to exercise which would make him a free agent next summer, was not going to be easy.

“It was definitely going to be different,” Horford said, then adding, “For me, the Celtics were becoming more and more a realistic option. After talking with my family, we felt this was the best for me.”
 
And while it’s still very early in his tenure as a Celtic, Horford has no regrets or second thoughts about his decision.
 
“As a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
 
And that alone makes him a good fit with this franchise which from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff and of course the players, are all focused on one thing and that’s bringing home Banner 18.
 
 “Look at the resume. He’s been a winner wherever he’s played,” said Boston’s Amir Johnson. “It’s good to have a guy like that, with his talent and with his winning, playing next to you.”