West, Murphy, O'Neals still dealing with injuries

191544.jpg

West, Murphy, O'Neals still dealing with injuries

By: Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

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.

Rich Levine can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

86pod-shaughnessy-dl.png

The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

Boston Globe columnist, and former Celtics beat writer, Dan Shaughnessy sits down with CSN for an extended discussion on "The '86 Celtics Interviews" podcast. Shaughnessy talks about the greatness of that team and the players' surprising reaction when they found out he was moving from the Celtics to the Red Sox beat.

Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

ceiling_to_floor-zeller.png

Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – The NBA is a league full of highs and lows for players.

There are few who understand this as well as Tyler Zeller, a player who has gone from starting to being a backup to not playing at all – at times in the same week.

And through it all, you never heard him gripe about it publicly or privately to teammates.

It’s among the many reasons you constantly hear his teammates talk about how much they respect the way he has handled some extremely difficult situations.

This past season was especially tough for him considering he was heading into free agency and looking to do all he could to not just win, but showcase what he could do as player.

There were many nights when Zeller didn’t have that opportunity, but he understood.

The Celtics have been and will continue to be a team that’s about finding ways to win and on many nights coach Brad Stevens decided to go in a direction that didn’t include Zeller playing.

As the summer dragged on and the Celtics’ joined the handful of teams that came up short in landing Kevin Durant, Zeller’s return became more likely.

And Zeller’s patience was rewarded with a two-year, $16 million contract with the second year of the deal being a team option.

Now that he’s back in the fold, what’s next?

The ceiling for Zeller: Part-time starter

It may not happen on opening night and it may not happen in the first week, or even first month, of the season.

But at some point, Tyler Zeller will be in the Celtics’ starting lineup.

And when he’s there, he’ll do a lot of good things that he has proven he’s capable of doing.

When it comes to running the floor in transition, Zeller has distinguished himself as one of the Celtics best big men.

The Celtics are big on playing with space and pace and there are few 7-footers who can run the floor as well as Zeller.

In fact, his PACE (number of possessions per 48 minutes) last season was 101.93 which was tops among all Celtics frontcourt players and second overall to guard Marcus Smart (102.46).

It’ll get the Celtics a few easy buckets here and there, but it won’t score enough points with the coaching staff to keep a starting job, which would then relegate him back to being one of the team’s frontcourt reserves.

Still, Zeller is a luxury that few teams have: a player who won’t get (overly) bent out of shape even if his minutes resemble this.

The floor for Zeller: On the roster

Zeller has spent the bulk of his NBA career as a back-to-the-basket center, but showed more desire to score more from the perimeter last season, which is one of the reasons why he shot a career-low 47.6 percent from the field.

He’s trying to expand his game because of the direction that the NBA is going with big men who need to be able to score further away from the basket in addition to providing a presence around the rim.

While Zeller has decent mechanics on his perimeter shot, it’s clear that he’s not yet totally comfortable being a “stretch big.”

According to NBA.com/stats, Zeller shot 30.9 percent from the field last season on wide open shot attempts from at least 10 feet away.

With the addition of Al Horford and the return of Amir Johnson as well as Kelly Olynyk, Boston has a nice group of stretch centers they can put on the floor. And let’s not forget about Jonas Jerebko, who closed out the playoffs as a starter for Boston.

Minutes will once again be hard to come by for Zeller with any kind of consistency.

In fact, there’s a very good chance that he will have some games in which he doesn’t play (coaches decision) at all.

And depending on injuries, he may have to be inactive at times just to ensure Boston has depth on the perimeter.

Whether he’s starting, coming off the bench or not suited up at all, Zeller is an important part of this Celtics squad. Above all else, he provides depth, which continues to be one of the hallmarks for this franchise under Stevens.