Even after Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed mild concern earlier this week about bringing injured Shaquille O'Neal on a long flight to Portland, the 38-year-old center made the trip with the team Wednesday afternoon, another sign he'll return to action during this four-game trek out west, which begins Thursday night against the Trail Blazers.
Reserve swingman Marquis Daniels, who missed his first game of the season Tuesday while tending to a family matter, did not fly with the team, but was expected to join the Celtics on Wednesday evening in Portland. Only reserve center Jermaine O'Neal, rehabbing and strengthening his left knee, and rookie Avery Bradley, on assignment with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League, did not make the trip.
Shaquille O'Neal has missed the past two games because of a sore right hip. Rivers said on Monday that it was more likely Shaq would join the team in Phoenix, which would have been a shorter flight, but that plan changed.
"It’s his hip. It’s locked," Rivers said Monday. "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 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."