Shaq won't play Sunday or Monday for Celtics


Shaq won't play Sunday or Monday for Celtics

By A. Sherrod Blakely

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. 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 Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Still wait-and-see on Smart's status for Celtics' opener


Still wait-and-see on Smart's status for Celtics' opener

BOSTON – Marcus Smart’s sprained left ankle injury continues to heal, but the Celtics remain in wait-and-see mode when it comes to his availability for the season opener on Wednesday against Brooklyn.
Smart sprained the ankle in the second quarter of a 121-96 preseason loss to the New York Knicks when he stepped on the foot of Knicks guard Justin Holliday.
He was helped off the floor by teammates Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas along with head trainer Ed Lacerte.
Since the injury, the Celtics have been pleased with the healing progress of the ankle, the same ankle he sprained as a rookie which kept him out for several weeks.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Smart is no longer in a walking boot and continues to be day-to-day as he receives a steady diet of treatments to help speed up the healing process.
Smart will undergo a series of tests to determine the ankle’s strength, prior to getting any kind of clearance to play.
That’s why Stevens isn’t worried about Smart returning to the floor too soon.
“I trust our staff. Our staff and Marcus will make that decision well,” Stevens said. “Then I play guys, if they are available.”
Smart has established himself as one of the Celtics’ top reserves, with the ability to play both guard positions and some small forward depending on the lineup on the floor. The Celtics have to prepare for the possibility that he will not be able to play in the opener (or the first few games considering Boston opens with three games in four nights.

His absence would create more playing time for Terry Rozier in addition to likely resulting in extended minutes for starters such as Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.
As eager as Smart is to get back on the floor, he and the Celtics are mindful of the big picture.
This team wants to make a deep playoff run and they’ll everyone – Smart included – to do so.
That’s why as much as Smart wants to get on the floor immediately, he has to remember – or be reminded of – that this is an 82-game season and his long-term value to this team and its goals can’t be taken for granted.

Olynyk cleared for full contact at Celtics' practice


Olynyk cleared for full contact at Celtics' practice

BOSTON - The Celtics got a bit of good news on the injury front with Kelly Olynyk being cleared for full contact.
The 7-foot center participated in most of the Celtics’ drills on Saturday, some of which included contact.
Olynyk said he had been doing some contact work prior to practice Saturday, but in a more controlled setting.
“I’m just trying to ramp it up a little bit more, every day,” Olynyk said. “Just trying to take a step in the right direction every day.”
Olynyk had surgery on his right shoulder in May with him expected to be out for at least five months.
Danny Ainge, C's president of basketball operations, recently said that he anticipated Olynyk returning sometime in the middle of November.
That would put his return about six months out from the time of surgery.

“He did a lot more than he has done,” coach Brad Stevens said. “We’ll see how he feels and progress at the appropriate rate after that.”
One of the strengths that Olynyk brought to the floor when he played was the ability to help space the floor because of his 3-point shooting.
Olynyk was not just a good 3-point shooter for a center, but one of the better 3-point shooters in the NBA last season when he connected on 40.5 percent of his 3s last season.  And it’s clear that last season was not a fluke, evident by him shooting 37.3 percent on 3s for his career.
However, the addition of Al Horford not only solidified the Celtics’ interior defense but also provides them with another stretch center.
Horford, who spent the past nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, shot 34 percent on 3s last season which at the very least, makes him a player that defenses have to respect when he’s outside of the 3-point line.