Shaq injury 'not that bad'; Krstic close

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Shaq injury 'not that bad'; Krstic close

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

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 atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

BOSTON –  For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics were hosting a team eager to get off a losing skid.

But a strong surge near the end of the second quarter gave the Celtics a 65-56 halftime lead over Portland which came into the night having lost four straight.

Boston opened with a 12-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder – his second within the game’s first couple minutes.

But the Blazers were being carried by C.J. McCollum, half of the most explosive backcourt in the NBA. His 12 first-quarter points were crucial to keeping the Blazers within 28-26 at the end of the quarter.

McCollum continued to out-perform everyone else on the floor, even Isaiah Thomas who had a quieter than usual first half.

But the 5-foot-9 Thomas continued to make all the plays needed to put the Celtics back on top courtesy of a 12-3 run that put them ahead 57-49 with 1:55 to play in the half.

From there, Boston was able to maintain control of the game.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

While there’s still talk about whether Damian Lillard will be an All-Star this year, McCollum has played well enough to where he’s at least worthy of a mention in the All-Star conversation. He certainly carried Portland in the first half with 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

As usual, Thomas drew a considerable amount of attention from the opposing defense. And slowly but surely, he found cracks that he could exploit. At the half, he had 17 points, four assists and three rebounds, one of which was an offensive board that he put-back in for a lay-up.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He put the Celtics on a good path from the outset, knocking down a couple 3’s in the first couple of minutes. He finished the half with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting which included a trio of 3-pointers.

Meyers Leonard

He was 3-for-4 in the first half which included a pair of powerful dunks over Boston’s Jordan Mickey. At the half he had eight points and two rebounds.

 

DUDS

Damian Lillard

It was a rough half for the two-time All-Star, tallying just three points on 1-for-5 shooting. A big part of his problem? Foul trouble. He played just 10 minutes in the first half due in large part to having three personal fouls.