This reporter is catching the train to New York City now, but the Celtics held a shootaround this morning at Madison Square Garden in advance of Wednesday's game against the New York Knicks and Comcast SporstNet sideline reporter Greg Dickerson tweets that Shaquille O'Neal expects to sit out both ends of a back-to-back (the Atlanta Hawks visit the Garden on Thursday).
O'Neal's absence would keep rookie Semih Erden in the starting lineup. Celtics coach Doc Rivers hinted Tuesday that the Celtics would lean heavy on the Kevin Garnett/Glen Davis combo anyhow, but Boston's preference is to be able to bring Davis off the bench. Even still, Erden will have the tall task of helping defend the offensively dangerous Stoudemire at the start of the game.
"Whoever we start at center will guard [Stoudemire]," Rivers said Tuesday. "We're a help defense team anyway. So whoever starts at center will post him. I don't think we'll do much different. Obviously, there will be times when Baby and Kevin are on the floor together and that will be an effective lineup for us as well."
O'Neal has missed two games with a sore right calf. He said Tuesday he felt better as he replenished his "calf juices," but he did not participate in Tuesday's practice, which Rivers had previously said would indicate if O'Neal was able to play in Wednesday's game.