"Ray looked at me the other day and said, 'Are you guys playing tag or something?'" Jermaine O'Neal said with a laugh before sitting out Boston's practice session Wednesday morning at the American Airlines Arena. "He said, 'We do have more than one O'Neal jersey, so you guys can play together.'"
Yes, the O'Neals seemingly have taken turns wearing their finest suits on the sideline to start the season. That said, the Celtics have had at least one O'Neal on the floor to start all 16 of those same games.
That could change Thursday night, when the Celtics visit the Miami Heat for a rematch of the season opener. Celtics coach Doc Rivers suggested it was "likely" both O'Neals would sit out with their matching knee ailments. Shaq's right knee is sore from a collision with Amare Stoudemire last month, while Jermaine's left knee remains troublesome after initially swelling following a game last month in Cleveland.
It should come as no surprise that both players admitted Wednesday that their decisions about whether to play will be based largely on the status of the other. While Allen might have been joking about playing as a tag team, it sure seems like the O'Neals have been passing the game-uniform baton this season.
"I think that's the reason why, even when I had a procedure done, then I played, because we didn't have Shaq," Jermaine O'Neal said, remaining a bit cryptic about a procedure he underwent recently to reduce the swelling in his left knee. Pressed on the topic, he dubbed it a "small" procedure that typically would require a couple of days of rest.
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