Shaq will play tonight vs. Detroit

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Shaq will play tonight vs. Detroit

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Shaquille O'Neal made his way into the TD Garden this afternoon, looking fit as ever.

Fit enough to play?

We'll find out soon enough with O'Neal ready to make his return to the Celtics lineup tonight against the Detroit Pistons.

Earlier today, Celtics coach Doc Rivers told CSNNE.com that O'Neal would "probably" play, but added that he would only play limited minutes.

"If he does, it will only be for five, maybe 10 minutes," Rivers said at the time.

Moments ago, Rivers confirmed that O'Neal would play and that he would not only limit his minutes, but also limit the number of games he plays in between now and the playoffs.

"I'm telling you now, I'm not going to play him every night," Rivers told a group of reporters. "I'm going to play him three or four games, and that'll be it. We'll get ready for the playoffs."

O'Neal, out with what's being described as a right leg injury, would provide some much-needed depth for the C's at the center position.

The Celtics recently got Jermaine O'Neal back following surgery ln his left knee. But on the same night of his return, the C's lost Nenad Krstic to a right knee injury.

The Celtics were concerned that Krstic suffered torn ligaments in the knee. But an MRI revealed that he had a bone bruise and his status is now day-to-day.

Although Krstic's exact return remains up in the air, Rivers said there's a chance that Krstic is back in the lineup Tuesday against Philadelphia.

As for O'Neal, his return can not come soon enough for the Celtics.

One of the reasons the C's traded away Kendrick Perkins in February was because they felt that S. O'Neal would give them the inside presence they needed to finish out this season strong, and adequately prepare them for the playoffs.

However, his injuries - he has had right foot, calf and Achilles Tendon issues - have taken longer to heal than initially thought.

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

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.