By A. Sherrod Blakely
WALTHAM It's a good thing Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, stockpiled all those centers this summer.
Because as the injuries continue to pile up for Boston's big men, their return isn't coming about as expected.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers was optimistic that both Semih Erden and Shaquille O'Neal would have been back in time for Thursday's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Not only will they miss tomorrow's game against the Miami Heat, but Rivers expects them to be out even when the team regroups after the all-star break.
They join fellow center Jermaine O'Neal, who recently had surgery on his left knee that will sideline him until late-March or early April.
"Semih's out until after the break, and Shaq will be too," Rivers said. "We don't know if they'll be back (right) after the break, right now."
Erden is suffering from a groin injury that has been among the ailments he has played through most of this season.
O'Neal has had a number of issues with his right leg, the latest involves a right Achilles injury that has kept him out of Boston's last seven games.
"Semih, his groin is not improving," Rivers said. "And Shaq's Achilles is not improving at all. Obviously, we thought we'd have them both back by the last game. But that's fine. We're good."
Their absence means the Celtics are rely even more on starters Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, while also looking to get more production from Glen Davis and rookie Luke Harangody who are the team's only two other big men.
Boston's Nate Robinson, who left in the second quarter of Thursday's game against the Lakers with a bruised right knee injury, will try and play tomorrow.
He told CSNNE.com following the Lakers game that he planned to have an MRI taken on Friday. However, Ainge told CSNNE.com Friday evening that Robinson was not going to have an MRI performed.
"I'm just getting treatment now," said Robinson, who added that he would play with a knee brace tomorrow.
Robinson usually wears shin guards when he plays, "so I got to do a little (Rajon) Rondo look for now. But the knee thing, it feels weird."
He was talking about the brace, but he could have easily have been talking about his knee which was still giving him problems less than 24 hours before tip-off against the Miami Heat.
The injury occurred when Robinson's knee collided with Lakers guard Shannon Brown's knee following a Robinson shot attempt.
There was no swelling, but Robinson said, "the pain in there is kind of funky right now. So we're just icing it."
Robinson said he has no trouble walking, but it's running and jumping that remain issues.
He said he won't plan to try and do that until tomorrow.
"I'm just going to go in here and get treatment," said Robinson, who spent most of Friday at the practice facility receiving treatments.
Even if Robinson plays, he won't be at full strength - which essentially has been the story of this season for the Celtics.
"We just have to find a way to win, regardless of who goes down," Robinson said. "That's why it's called a team. It's not just one guy. Guys play through injuries. Just keep fighting through it; we'll be alright."