Shaquille O'Neal (foot) out indefinitely


Shaquille O'Neal (foot) out indefinitely

By A.Sherrod Blakely

MILWAUKEE The timetable for Shaquille O'Neal's return to the lineup has fluctuated about as much as the Boston Celtics' roster in recent weeks.

The C's roster is coming together, for sure.


Not so much.

It seems just when one ailment is on the mend, another one flares up.

The right Achilles tendon injury that O'Neal suffered last month is healing fine, but now he's once again bothered by some right foot soreness.

Now it's to the point where the Celtics have no idea when the 7-foot-1 center, who turned 39 years old Sunday, will return to action.

When asked about O'Neal and a likely return date, coach Doc Rivers acknowledged he had no idea.

"O'Neal worked out with us the other day," Rivers said. "Some of the pain returned."

Rivers spoke with Ed Lacerte, the team's head trainer.

"Eddie just said don't expect him anytime soon," Rivers said.

The uncertainty surrounding O'Neal, who missed his 13th consecutive game Sunday, and his return to the floor is not a major issue right now.

Boston remains atop the Eastern Conference standings with 21 games remaining, holding a comfortable three-game lead over the second-place Bulls.

For the Celtics, the concern about O'Neal will be in April and May, which is when they'll need every healthy body available for the playoffs.

Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy have proven themselves as solid NBA players, but the C's will need more than Krstic and Murphy to bring home Banner 18.

Jermaine O'Neal (left knee surgery) is making progress, but there's no telling when he'll be back or how effective he'll be upon returning to the court.

And while there's still time for Shaquille O'Neal to return in time and be productive leading into the playoffs, having missed so many games makes it unlikely that he'll return and pick up immediately where he left off.

O'Neal has started 36 games for the Celtics, and is averaging 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds while playing 20.7 minutes per game.

While the numbers are career-lows, they fail to show the impact he has had on the C's when healthy.

With O'Neal in the starting lineup, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were enjoying career seasons shooting the ball.


They didn't think so.

"His presence commands so much attention," Allen told recently. "With a player like that on the floor, it opens things up for so many of us in terms of getting good shot attempts."

Added Pierce: "He definitely makes my job and Ray's job a lot easier out there. We need the big fella, for sure."

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

Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win


Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win

BOSTON –  This is not where Al Horford thought he would be right now.
Back in May, the Atlanta Hawks had just been swept out of the playoffs by the soon-to-be NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Disappointed with the outcome obviously, Horford was a free agent-to-be who was confident that he would be back in Atlanta and the Hawks would retool by adding to their core group which he was a major part of, and they would be back to making another run at it this season.
First there was the draft night trade of point guard Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers. 
And during Horford's negotiations with the Hawks in July, they were also negotiating with Dwight Howard and ultimately signed the Atlanta native to a three-year, $70.5 million contract. 
Before the Howard deal was complete, the Celtics had already made a strong impression on Horford during their presentation to him. 
So the choice was pretty clear.
Return to Atlanta and potentially have a major logjam up front with himself, Howard and Paul Millsap, or join a Celtics team that’s on the rise where his five-tool skillset – passing, rebounding, defending, scoring and making those around him better – could be put to great use on a team that’s clearly on the rise. 
Horford chose the latter, giving both himself and the Celtics exactly what they wanted – stability and a chance to win at the highest of levels.
The first shot to see how this basketball marriage looks on the floor will be tonight when the Celtics kick off the 2016-2017 season at the TD Garden against the Brooklyn Nets. 
The preseason isn’t the best indicator of what’s on the horizon now that games count, but Horford’s presence was undeniable.
Boston’s starters which includes Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson, each finished with a positive, double-digit plus/minus in the preseason. 
“He just makes the game so much easier for all of us,” Johnson told “He can do so many things out there at both ends of the floor. He’s going to be big for us this season.”
And his impact can be felt both on the floor and inside the locker room, similar to what he brought to the Atlanta Hawks.
“With the way that I go about it is, I’m trying to win,” Horford told “I’m gonna work, put in my work, try to help guys get better not only on the court but off the court as well. That’s how I carry myself.”
 And it is that approach to the game that has made his transition to the Celtics a relatively seamless one. 
Horford holds many fond memories of his time in Atlanta, a place that will always be near and dear to his heart. 
But he’s a Celtic now, coming in with the same single-minded focus that drives this organization to continue pursuing the only thing that truly matters to them – an NBA title. 
"Even though I’m leaving a lot behind, as a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”

Rozier's confidence, hard work earning him more minutes in Celtics rotation


Rozier's confidence, hard work earning him more minutes in Celtics rotation

BOSTON – You’ll have to pardon Terry Rozier if he doesn’t have that deer-in-the-headlights look about him when he takes to the floor tonight for what should be the first of many meaningful stretches of playing time.
You see, being harassed with the defensive pressure of Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart while trying to become a pest to Isaiah Thomas (which I’m told Rozier is frequently in practice), has instilled in Rozier the kind of confidence that’s not easily shaken.
That’s one of the main reasons why the Celtics aren’t freaking out about the departure of Evan Turner to Portland this offseason and more recently the sprained left ankle injury to Marcus Smart that’ll keep him out for a few games.
When it comes to filling those two voids, all eyes will be on Rozier.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next guy has to step up,” Thomas said. “Terry has shown he’s ready for that opportunity. He’s worked very hard this summer. I’m proud of him. I’ve been in that position before. He’s been waiting for that opportunity. He’s ready.”
Rozier had an impressive run during summer league as Boston’s best player. And in training camp, he hasn’t let up in being one of the standout performers.
It has led to the second-year guard being exactly where he thought his hard work in the offseason would take him to, and that’s a prominent spot in the Celtics’ rotation.
And in doing so, Rozier knows it’ll likely mean taking some minutes from his veteran teammates like Isaiah Thomas who he credits for always being there to help him grow as a player.
“I’m trying to get better, but I want to play too,” Rozier told “Getting his (Thomas’) minutes, anybody’s minutes, I’m going for it. But I know he’s not going to lighten up and make it easy for me. I know that. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
It certainly looks like it for Rozier who has shown growth in just about every phase of his game since he was selected by Boston with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
There were many who questioned Danny Ainge’s decision to draft a guard so high when he already had Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart in the fold.
But Rozier has shown the promise that Ainge saw in him coming out of Louisville.

Now it’s just a matter of Rozier getting the kind of minutes and producing, that will ultimately validate the trust and faith Ainge and his coaching staff showed in selecting Rozier.
For Rozier, not being looked upon all that favorably is just par for the course when it comes to his basketball career.
“I’ve been doubted all my life,” Rozier said. “It ain’t hurt me. I always tell myself, ‘they’re gonna fall in love with me because I play hard and they’re gonna fall in love with my intensity level. People didn’t know who I was when I came here; that’s fine. They’ll fall in love with me and my game sooner or later.”