Krstic to undergo MRI, will miss at least two games

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Krstic to undergo MRI, will miss at least two games

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

SAN ANTONIO One big man returns, another one leaves.

Seems like it's been that way for the Boston Celtics all season.

It certainly was on Thursday, with the return of Jermaine O'Neal coinciding with a right knee injury to starting center Nenad Krstic that will keep him out for at least the next two games.

Coach Doc Rivers said Krstic will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of his injury.

If Krstic's injury is as serious as it looked in the second quarter of Boston's 107-97 win at San Antonio, it wouldn't be the first time he has suffered a significant knee injury.

While with the New Jersey Nets -- then coached by current Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank -- Krstic suffered a torn ACL injury to his left knee that sidelined him for the entire season.

Now that the Celtics are without Krstic, they once again find themselves short-handed at the center position.

In fact, the only true center they have now is Jermaine O'Neal, who returned to action on Thursday for the first time since Jan. 10 -- a span of 36 games.

The return of Shaquille O'Neal to the Celtics is up in the air.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told WEEI that O'Neal would be back Sunday or Tuesday of next week. Meanwhile, Rivers said he isn't sure when O'Neal will return, adding that his longer-than-expected time recovering from a series of right leg injuries may "bleed into" the playoffs.

"I just don't know because I've never had this situation," Rivers said of Shaq's return. "It's getting to become a challenge. It wasn't before, because I just viewed it as a regular season injury. Now it's starting to get close to bleeding into playoffs. Now that becomes a challenge."

When you add the uncertainty that exists now with Krstic's injury, the Celtics' frontline may have yet another hurdle to overcome between now and the postseason.

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

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

BOSTON – When you look at Avery Bradley’s growth this season, seeing the tremendous strides he has made offensively is clear.

But at the heart of Bradley’s game remains a desire to dominate a matchup as a defender, something that was alive and well on Monday as he made his return to the floor after missing the four previous games with an Achilles strain.

Bradley’s defense would prove instrumental in Boston’s 108-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

He was 2-for-9 from the field and played nearly 33 minutes against Hornets which is just a couple minutes under his season average of court time.

Usually he’s responsible for providing a boost at both ends of the floor.

But considering his long lay-off, it was clear early on that he was locked in defensively more so than looking to get back on track shooting the ball.

“You take any type of games off in this league, your rhythm and all that you gotta get it back,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.

Even though his shots weren’t falling, Bradley was on top of his game defensively while guarding 6-foot-8 Nicolas Batum who is six inches taller but never was a factor on Monday.

Batum finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked what he got out of Bradley in his return to action.

“I thought he (Bradley) was great,” Stevens told CSNNE.com. “He did everything we needed him to do. We knew there would be a little bit of rust (shooting the ball), but that’s part of you playing your way back into it.”

As far as Bradley’s stifling defense on Batum, Stevens said, “You have to do that against Batum. I thought Avery did a really good job of that. It’s a hard matchup no matter what way you go. Batum, giving up inches to him. He (Bradley) was there on the catch all night.”

And as Bradley gradually gets back into a flow, he’ll regain the form offensively that made him one of the NBA’s better two-way players this season.