WALTHAM, Mass. -- A collection of news and notes after the (shorthanded) Boston Celtics practiced Tuesday afternoon at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint:
The Celtics ran through an 75-minute session without the benefit of seven players as Rajon Rondo (hamstring, feet), Shaquille O'Neal (calf), Glen Davis (illness), Nate Robinson (personal matter), Jermaine O'Neal (knee), Delonte West (wrist), and Kendrick Perkins (knee) were all absent from full-team drills.
Asked who of that group might not be available for Wednesday's game against the Denver Nuggets, Rivers half-joked, "Maybe all of them." The situation isn't quite that dire, but it's not great either. Jermaine O'Neal, West, and Perkins are obviously out with long-term injuries, but here's a glance at the others:
Rondo: After being a late scratch in Sunday's win over the New Jersey Nets, Rondo did not participate in Tuesday's practice with lingering soreness in his hamstring. He did make a brief appearance on the court following the session for some light shooting. Rivers deemed him "iffy" for Wednesday's game, but didn't discount the notion that he could need an extended rest.
“I just leave it up to Eddie," said Rivers. "[An extended break] may come at some point. I don’t think it’s a bad suggestion. It’s been suggested already, I can tell you that. Eddie knows when it’s close enough to play.
“The injury scares me. Both the foot and the hamstring. The foot is not the problem right now, but the hamstring can go from a pull to a tear. When you get the tear, you are talking two months so it’s a tough little situation."
Shaq: After sitting out the second half of Boston's triumph in New Jersey, Shaq attended practice but did not participate in full-team drills. Shaq didn't stop to chat with reporters, but did say he was feeling "great." Rivers also put him in the "iffy" category for Wednesday's game.
Davis: Big Baby reported to the team's practice facility, but was immediately shipped home because of his fever from what's believed to be the flu. Rivers deemed him questionable as well.
"Baby’s sick and depends on severity of that. I don’t know. He had a 102- or 103-[degree] fever today. We try to get them out of the building as quickly as possible when anybody’s sick because, last year, we had it and Orlando has already had it [this year]. We try to get them out. Now, Marquis [Daniels] was sick, but, unfortunately, he was sick two days ago, so I got a feeling that’s why Baby was sick."
Robinson: Robinson left the team to deal with a family issue, but Rivers seemed most optimistic about his potential to play Wednesday. " I think Nate will be back," said Rivers. "Nate had a family thing."
In the face of mounting injuries, the Celtics got creative with practice, with Rivers trotting out a lineup that featured Daniels, Pierce, and Allen all spending time at the point, trying to get them all used to potentially having to run the offense.
"Today, we had no Rondo, no Nate, no Glen Davis, no Delonte, no J.O., and no Shaq," said Rivers. "So it was a very difficult practice. So you gotta create a practice and we went with Marquis, Ray, and Paul, at the 1, 2, and 3, and we ran an offense for an hour with that and it’s good for them because we did that already once this year [when Rondo got injured], and we may have to do it again. It at least gives them a chance to run off of it. But when you do that, you have to go over your whole defense again because everybody is in different positions. It messes that up, but it’s going to happen."
Rivers admitted he's rarely had to do so much juggling with his available players.
“It affects you," he said. "I’ve never done as much preparation with strange lineups as I have done over the past week. I’m just trying to prepare myself, and them, just in case it does happen. We had one lineup today when the guys were laughing, and I said, “Hey guys, this may be our lineup," so we had to work on it today, so it just is what it is.
“It’s great having the Kevins, Rays and Pauls on your team because they were very serious today with the guys we had. We had Luke line up at the five today for a minute. Luke thought we were goofing around and you could see Kevin getting on him saying, 'Get ready, this could happen.'"
A few more nuggets:
* Jermaine O'Neal came onto the court for about 25 minutes of activity after the Celtics' formal session had completed. Working with the training staff and coaches, he got up shots and moved fluidly despite wearing a large brace over the sore left knee that has sidelined him for 12 straight games. O'Neal declined to talk to reporters Tuesday, but had said in New Jersey on Sunday that he hoped to work out like this each day this week with a goal of being cleared by the medical staff to resume full-team activities next week. Click HERE to watch him in some more heightened activity during his post-practice workout.
* Rivers trekked to Foxborough Monday night to watch the New England Patriots' 45-3 thrashing of the New York Jets. It wasn't all smiles for Rivers, a Chicago native, who hopes his team doesn't suffer a similar fate when the Patriots and Bears clash Sunday.
"No comment this week," joked Rivers. "Very quiet week for Bears fans -- scary quiet. I was at the game last night, that was awesome, that was really cool. I was at the game for a half, then I thought coach [Bill] Belichick and his group had it under control, so I got out of there."
* Celtics captain Paul Pierce said it didn't matter how many available bodies the team had, they still came out ready to accomplish something in practice and said injuries won't affect the team's belief that they should win every time they step on the court.
"Well, as a young team, you make excuses -- we’re injured, that’s why we didn’t win the game -– but with this group, it doesn’t matter who we put on the court with injuries, we feel like we’re going to win. We feel like we can win. And, so, no matter who we put out on that court, we feel like we’ve got a great chance of winning and we don’t use it as an excuse. We lost some games [last year] because of some injuries, but that was no excuse for us. This year we feel like those are games we should win."