By: Rich Levine
WALTHAM With all the commotion over the Celtics mental, chemistry and apathy issues, some of the teams physical and medical problems have taken a back at seat.
At least for now. But they obviously still do still exist, and in the midst of trying to figure out whats wrong with the players who are on the court, Doc Rivers took a moment before practice to touch on the players who arent.
First and foremost, of course, the ONeals.
Jermaine ONeal is currently working out in Chicago, and is still on target to rejoin the team before the end of the regular season, and while Shaquille ONeal is a little closer to returning, Rivers says you still shouldnt expect Shaq to play on the teams upcoming four-game road trip.
Not on this trip, Rivers said. Ive actually heard that theres a chance, but I dont expect it. I just think thats too optimistic. Just being around the game long enough to know that when you take a boot off, you normally dont play a day later. I just dont think thats realistic. I think theres a better chance of next Sunday, but I think more the game after that is our target date for Shaq.
Troy Murphy, who sprained his right ankle during Thursdays practice and missed Fridays game with his foot in a walking boot, has broken free from the boot, and was in uniform before practice. But like with the ONeals, Rivers says not to hold your breathe on Murphy.
I dont think hes good to go, he said, but hes taken the boot off. I dont even think hes going on the trip.
Lastly, theres Delonte West, who missed practice for personal reasons, and who, despite playing the last six games, is still dealing with the lingering effects of a late-February ankle injury.
"I've had a sprained ankle before; it normally takes two, three days and you're back in action," West said after Fridays loss. "But they're saying I got a chipped bone in there and I think I kind of over-did it a little bit in practice (on Thursday)."
Still, Rivers isnt overly concerned.
Delontes good, he said. It just becomes a pain thing. There will be games when he feels great, there will be a game here or there when he can play, but therell be more pain. Last night he actually twisted it a little.
I think hell be all right, unless he steps on a foot, which he cant avoid. Delonte will be OK. There will be a game or two where hell react to pain, but if Im betting on a guy for toughness, and playing through pain, I got a pretty good feeling it wont be a factor with Delonte. So thats not a concern, but obviously Shaq, JO, that a concern.