Shaq injury 'not that bad'; Krstic close


Shaq injury 'not that bad'; Krstic close

By A.Sherrod Blakely

WALTHAM One of the more popular halftime acts in the NBA is a husband-and-wife tandem better known as Quick Change.

They appear in outfits that literally change, quickly -- hence the name, Quick Change -- before your eyes.

We're seeing a little bit of that these days when it comes to Shaquille O'Neal and the return date for his injuries.

The latest ailment O'Neal is dealing with is a strained right calf suffered in the second quarter of Boston's 101-90 win over Detroit on Sunday.

Coach Doc Rivers reiterated on Monday that O'Neal's latest injury is "not that bad, not that severe."

"He will not probably play the rest of this week," said Rivers, who had a Quick Change moment of his own, and added, "table that. He might play at the end of this week. We're just not sure yet."

Figuring out what to do with O'Neal, healthy or not at this point, is a delicate matter for the Celtics.

While there's certainly some merit in getting him on the floor in spot-duty now to help better prepare him for the playoffs, they run the risk of having a repeat of Sunday night's game, in which O'Neal suffered a right calf strain after playing less than six minutes.

Although Rivers says there's a chance that Shaq may play against Washington on Friday, the Celtics haven't ruled out shutting him down until the playoffs, either.

"If that's what it requires," Rivers said. "We're going to do whatever they doctors tell us is required. Other than that, I would love to play him a couple games."

Even before the injury, Rivers made it clear that O'Neal would not play in all of the C's remaining regular-season games.

The same restrictions are not likely to apply to Nenad Krstic.

Krstic suffered a bone bruise in his right knee in last week's win at San Antonio, an injury that the Celtics initially feared would be worst than it turned out.

An MRI revealed the bone bruise, which has kept the 7-foot center out of Boston's last two games.

However, he was able to practice with the team on Monday and is optimistic that he'll play Tuesday against Philadelphia.

Following Monday's practice, he said the knee was still sore but "it's fine."

When the injury first happened, Krstic admitted he was a bit nervous because it reminded him of when he suffered a torn ACL in 2007 with the New Jersey Nets, an injury that kept him out for the remainder of the season.

But after the initial pain wore off, Krstic was optimistic about coming back soon even before he knew the MRI results.

"I knew right away it wasn't as serious as it was in New Jersey," he said. "I was upset."

But the pain was soon replaced by stiffness -- stiffness that Krstic said is nearly gone.

"I'm fine now," he said.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”