Shaq won't play Sunday or Monday for Celtics

191544.jpg

Shaq won't play Sunday or Monday for Celtics

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MIAMI Shaquille O'Neal said recently that he would only need a couple of games to be ready to go for the playoffs.

Now, it looks like he doesn't have a choice.

CSNNE.com has learned that the 7-foot-1 center will not play in Sunday's game against Miami, or Monday's matchup against Washington. That means the only regular season action he may see at this point will be the regular season finale against the New York Knicks.

But if the Celtics lock up the No. 2 seed within the next couple games, chances become even more slim that O'Neal will suit up before the playoffs.

A team official confirmed that O'Neal did not travel with the team from Boston to Miami, and added that he's not expected to join them for either Sunday's game against the Heat or Monday's matchup at Washington.

Following Boston's 104-88 win over the Wizards Friday night, Celtics coach Doc Rivers hinted that there was a chance that O'Neal might at travel with the team for Sunday's game against the Heat.

The only time players who are injured travel is when they are close to returning to action.

"If we don't think he has any chance (of playing), he's not going to go on the trip," Rivers said. "I'm going to lean towards not, but I'm not sure."

Prior to Boston's win at San Antonio on March 31, Rivers said that O'Neal and his rash of injuries might "bleed" into the playoffs.

"I just don't know because I've never had this situation," Rivers said at the time. "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."

Hours later, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told WEEI that O'Neal would return to the floor within days.

O'Neal was back in the Celtics lineup on April 3 against Detroit, only to suffer a strained right calf injury in less than six minutes of playing time.

He was very effective during his time on the floor, scoring six points in addition to opening things up for teammates such as Delonte West to knock down open shots.

But the fact that he re-aggravated one of his many injuries this season, once again raises questions about whether the 39-year-old can withstand the rigors of playoff basketball long enough to make an impact for the Celtics.

Boston was hoping to bring him back for a few games to close out the season, and then shut him down until the playoffs.

With his recent injury coupled with how valuable he will be to their quest to bring home Banner 18, the Celtics may have no choice but to keep him sidelined until the playoffs.

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

WATCH: Celtics vs. Rockets

celtics_rockets_smart_harden_111615.jpg

WATCH: Celtics vs. Rockets

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Rockets in Houston. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game Preview: Get ready for 3-point showdown

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

- Live Extra FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Celtics: All of the most recent news and notes

- Talk about the game via social media on CSN's Pulse, presented by Ford

Celtics-Rockets preview: Get ready for 3-point showdown

Celtics-Rockets preview: Get ready for 3-point showdown

Earlier this month the Boston Celtics took a season-high 42 three-pointers in a game which raised a few eyebrows. 

And you know what?

No one would be surprised if the Celtics (12-8) surpassed that total tonight when they face the Houston Rockets who have set the pace when it comes to launching 3-point bombs in the NBA this season with 37.0 attempts per game. 

The Celtics aren’t too far behind, averaging 30.8 three-pointers which ranks fifth in the NBA.

But what makes these two teams so unique is that in addition to taking a lot of 3s, they also rank among the NBA’s leaders when it comes to knocking them down. 

The Rockets (13-7) make an NBA-high 14.0 three-pointers per game while the Celtics are fifth in the league with 11.1 made 3s per game. 

And the key to that stat is that both teams shoot a surprisingly high percentage from 3-point range as well. 

Houston’s 37.8 percent from 3-point range is the fifth-best mark in the NBA while the Celtics shoot 36.0 percent on 3's which ranks 10th in the league. 

So what does all this 3-ball shooting mean? 

It means get your popcorn ready for what should be one of the more exciting, high-scoring games on the Boston Celtics’ schedule this season.

Here are some other key stats to keep tabs on during tonight’s game. 

 

FIRST QUARTER SCORING

There is no team in the NBA better at jumping on you from the outset, then Houston. They lead the NBA in first-quarter scoring with 31.2 points per game while shooting 51.9 percent in the quarter which is also tops in the NBA. But there’s a downside to their first quarter success. Houston’s first quarter defense is pretty bad, ranking 27th in the league in first-quarter points allowed (28.5) while allowing teams to shoot a league-worst 52.3 percent from the field in the game’s first 12 minutes. 

 

FOURTH QUARTER SCORING

As impressive as Houston is to start games, the Boston Celtics are just as dominant offensively in the fourth quarter. Boston averages a league-best 29.1 points per game in the fourth compared to the Rockets whose 24.4 points in the fourth ranks 21st in the NBA. Boston’s strong finish to games is aided by a defense that seems to save its best work for the fourth quarter. Opponents are shooting just 40.6 percent against the Celtics in the fourth which ranks as the third-best fourth quarter defense in the NBA.

 

OFFENSIVE REBOUND PERCENTAGE

Boston’s struggles on the boards are well documented which includes - but is certainly not limited to - offensive rebounding. The Rockets will present a major problem to Boston when it comes to trying to avoid Houston getting second and third-shot opportunities. The Rockets rank fifth in the NBA in second-chance points (15.3) per game while the Celtics’ defense allows 15.2 second-chance points which ranks 27th in the league. And Boston’s offensive rebounding percentage for opponents ranks dead-last in the NBA at .265.

 

BALL MOVEMENT

Both teams rank among the league leaders in assists per game with Boston’s 24.4 assists per game average No. 2 in the NBA and Houston’s 24.3 assists ranks fourth. But more telling is how the Celtics rely more heavily on keeping the ball moving, more so than the Rockets. You see this in Boston averaging 329.2 passes per game which ranks third in the NBA while the Rockets’ 273.5 passes per game average is 29th in the league. Still, Houston’s passing game is to be respected especially when you consider the lofty assists numbers they’ve racked up in addition to them getting 59.2 points created via the assist according to nba.com/stats

 

TURNOVERS

These two are at opposite ends of the basketball world when it comes to turnovers. Boston commits 12.3 per game which is the fourth-fewest committed in the NBA while the Rockets are turning the ball over 16.1 times per game and that ranks 27th in the league. And these two remain widely far apart in the fourth quarter which is when the Celtics turn the ball over a league-low 2.2 times per game in the fourth while Houston turns the ball more than twice as much (4.5) which ranks 29th in the league.