Practice notes: Shaq likely out next two
Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal (hip) and reserve swingman Marquis Daniels (family issue) sat out Monday's 75-minute session and, while coach Doc Rivers dubbed the latter "50/50" for Tuesday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, it looks like O'Neal will miss at least the next two games.
O'Neal tweaked his right hip during the first quarter of Friday's win over the Utah Jazz. He did not travel with the team for Saturday's loss in Washington and Rivers suggested the team will not take him on the start of a four-game west coast road trip later this week.
"It’s his hip. It’s locked," said Rivers. "I don’t know what the hell that means. I don’t know if there's a key you go get or something like that. That's all it is. It's not a serious injury, but he’s also 38 years old. We’re going to be very cautious.
"I know [O'Neal will] miss [Tuesday] unless something happens with a miracle. And the flight to Portland [for Thursday's game vs. the Trial Blazers] is a difficult flight, seven hours or whatever. I, personally, think that would be tough for him. After that, he's pretty much available, but we want to avoid back-to-backs if we can."
Reading between the lines, it appears the Celtics could potentially fly O'Neal to Phoenix, where he could join the team for Friday's tail end of a back-to-back. Even if he doesn't play, that at least gives him the chance to be with the team when it travels to Los Angeles for Sunday's nationally televised showdown against the Lakers, the first battle between the two teams since Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
It's hard to image O'Neal, given his history with the Lakers, would miss that one, especially if the injury is not severe as Rivers suggested Monday.
As for Daniels, he's back home tending to a family issue. Asked about the likelihood of having him for Tuesday's game, Rivers said, "I'm not sure. I'd say 50/50 at best." Daniels is one of only five players to appear in all 43 games this season and, given his history of missing games due to injury in the past, he takes great pride in having been an ironman thus far. Daniels returned home earlier this year for another family issue, but rejoined the team in time to appear in the next day's game.
The Celtics operated with another 10-man practice Monday, meaning guys were shifted out of position and, during 5-on-5 work, there were no subs to offer rest. Glen Davis, who bounces between the center and power forward spots off the Boston bench, spent time at small forward in Daniels' absence.
Rookie Semih Erden ran with the starters, suggesting he'll remain the starting center in the absence of O'Neal.
"It’s tough, it’s tougher than even last year, so far, because of the continuity," said Rivers. "We do a lot of skeleton [non-contact] stuff, over and over again, which is extremely boring and monotonous. But it’s the only way we’ve been able to keep our rhythm. We’ve done more skeleton work than we’ve ever done, but we do it at full speed, like game-wise, because we don’t have enough size going up against each other.
"Baby spent the whole day at the 3, we threw him out of his position, but he enjoyed it. He thought he could shoot every time like Paul [Pierce]. Our guys have been pretty good. I'll say this: Our veterans, Ray [Allen], Paul, Kevin [Garnett], and [Rajon] Rondo, they have been terrific in understanding the situation we are in. Today, we had a good practice because of them. They're focused; They knew we wouldn’t be here long, so it’s been really good."
Jermaine O'Neal, who decided last week to avoid surgery and is spending the next four weeks rehabbing and strengthening his sore left knee, was at the team's facility working out. But with Erden running with the first team and Davis at small forward, that left a second-unit frontcourt of rookie Luke Harangody and Kendrick Perkins.
Knowing how banged up his team is, Perkins, less than six months removed from ACL surgery, told Rivers he could return as early as Tuesday's game against the Cavaliers, but Rivers isn't about to risk his health despite an ahead-of-schedule rehab thus far.
Rivers said Perkins is still slated to return on Feb. 4 against the Dallas Mavericks.
"I think he wants to [return], but I think we'll keep the timetable," said Rivers. "Honestly, he wanted to play [Tuesday]. He's already approached me about that... The only consideration is when [team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and [team physician] Dr. [Brian] McKeon say, 'You can play him.' I'm not going to listen to Perk, I can tell you that."
Elsewhere on the injury front, Delonte West got up shots after practice, catching the ball without hesitation with his right hand, a good sign he's progressing in his recovery from a fractured right wrist. He watched the end of the team's session from the sideline gripping a squeeze ball in his right hand to strengthen the wrist.
Despite the thin number of bodies, rookie guard Avery Bradley remains with Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League.
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