Notes: Jermaine O'Neal to start Tuesday night

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Notes: Jermaine O'Neal to start Tuesday night

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM With Shaquille O'Neal likely to miss Tuesday's game in Detroit, Doc Rivers said that O'Neal's "brother" Jermaine should be ready to step into the starting lineup after missing Boston's last game with a knee injury of his own.

"He had a good practice and he'll play," Rivers said. "Obviously, it could swell or something. But right now, he looked good."

The knee was actually one in a laundry list of ailments that Jermaine O'Neal has dealt with so far this season, but the big man is ready to shake off the rust and make his presence felt in the Celtics rotation.

"It's been challenging," O'Neal said after Monday's practice, "with the hamstring and then the back and the wrist and the knee. It's been extremely disappointing. But it's the trials and tribulations that make you stronger; you can never be successful and if you don't fail.

"So far I haven't been able to do things. I know that people who brought me here aren't happy with what they've seen, but I guarantee that by the end of the year they'll be happy with what they see. I'm doing everything I can to catch up to speed."

Among those things, O'Neal cites limited rest during practice, as well as extra one-on-one drills after the session ends.

Kevin Garnett, for one, is looking forward to getting O'Neal into the flow.

"I'm always looking to build chemistry with anyone who I haven't played with," Garnett said. "JO's been beat up a little bit, so obviously it'll be good to be out there with him."

The season is still very young, but there aren't enough great things to say about the play of Glen Davis. The fourth-year pro has become Boston's most reliable weapon on the bench, and a guy Doc Rivers now consistently turns to in crunch time along with Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Garnett.

Speaking after Monday's practice, Garnett was quick to make note of Davis' vast improvement.

"He's been a lot more patient than last year," Garnett said. "I think he understands his role even more. I think he's probably accepted his role more than last year. He's a lot more vocal. He's always charismatic and social; keeping us laughing and keeping it light. He's gonna play be a big part in whether we're successful or not.

Boston's lack of pop on the block was a main cause of their crushing Game Seven loss to the Lakers last June, and it was a problem that Danny Ainge addressed this offseason with the signing of both O'Neals.

As a result not to mention the improved health of Garnett the C's have been a much better rebounding team this season. But while the bigs will carry a bulk of the work load on the boards, Doc Rivers believes it's important for all five guys on the floor to get involved.

"Again, as important as our bigs are, it's really important for our guards to rebound," Rivers said. "Paul had 14 in one game and 9 in another and we won those games. He had two in another and we lost it. And I do think it's connected in some way."

Asked to elaborate, Pierce said he understood how important it is for him to crash, but also said that the responsibility doesn't fall only on him.

"It's not all on me from the wing," Pierce said. "It's gotta come from everyone. It's gotta come from the bigs. It's gotta come from Rondo. He's set such a high standard for himself on the glass, especially with the bigs going down.
Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics are about to hit one of the toughest stretches of the season and they’ll have to do it for at least one more game without their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas. 
 
Thomas, who suffered a right groin injury on Monday against the Houston Rockets, did not play on Wednesday against Orlando and said that he will not play in Friday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. 
 
“It’s day to day. I want to play. I want to be out there but it’s the smart decision to hold out and wait until it’s 100 percent,” Thomas said during a Season of Giving event for children of the Military Friends Foundation held at the Celtics’ practice facility. “If it was a playoff game I would be out there for sure.”
 
However, after consulting with a number of medical personnel, Thomas decided the best thing for him and the Celtics was to sit out Friday’s game which, along with Wednesday in Orlando, will be the first two he has missed since the 2014-2015 season. 
 
Thomas said there’s no specific timetable for his return, but he said he is planning to travel with the team to Oklahoma City for their matchup against the Thunder on Sunday. 
 
“It’s eating me a live to sit, but I have to do what’s best for my body, I have to do what’s best for this team,” Thomas said. “I need to be 100 percent healthy to give this team what I can give them.”
 
The Celtics are hoping for similar success they had Wednesday in Orlando (a 117-87 victory) on Friday against Toronto.
 
“They played a hell of a game last night,” Thomas said. “They’ll be ready tomorrow.”
 
The fact that Thomas intends to travel with the team is a good sign that the groin injury isn’t too serious. 
 
If he doesn’t play at Oklahoma City, that likely means he’ll return to action on Wednesday at San Antonio. 
 
“I’m going to do what I can to get back out there on the court,” Thomas said. “I gotta be smart about this. I don’t want this to linger on this season.”
 
Replacing Smart in the lineup against Toronto will most likely be Marcus Smart. 
 
Smart, who has been a replacement starter at small forward and point guard this season, had 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against the Magic.