Pregame notes: Shaq potentially out until All-Star break
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said reserve center Shaquille O'Neal will miss the next two games because of an inflamed Achilles and could be sidelined through the All-Star break as the team hopes to cure all the bumps and bruises that have limited O'Neal this season.
In sitting out Sunday's tilt, O'Neal will have missed 14 games this season due to a variety of injuries, including a bruised right knee, sore right calf and sore right hip.
"I don’t think he’s going to be back any time -- he’s not going to be out a long time, but I don’t think he’ll be back today, tomorrow, maybe not even until we go on break, but we’ll see," Rivers said.
Pressed on what the team needs to see in order to put O'Neal back on the floor, Rivers said he'll let the medical staff decide that. Rivers stressed that he won't rush to get O'Neal back on the floor.
"If this was a playoff game, Shaq would play, let’s just be honest," Rivers said. "But it’s not, and we’re going to need him in the playoffs and we want him to be right and healthy. This gives him a chance to get all the other things that were ailing him right, too. Look, he’s 38 years old, I’m sure you guys who have been to that age understand, you wake up and your body aches, it’s just tough. He’ll get right, we know that, we just want him to be right, and have the strength to play a number of games in a row where he can help, instead of just four or five games and then out."
The return of Kendrick Perkins has made the absence of Shaq a bit easier to endure. Even still, Rivers remains slightly concerned about escalating Perkins' minutes so quickly and said he'll continue to limit Perkins' floor time (preferring to keep his stints to no more than seven-minute chunks).
Which means reserves Glen Davis and Semih Erden will be pressed into 1-on-1 duty against Orlando All-Star center Dwight Howard Sunday. Joked Rivers: ""Just pray for Semih and Baby tonight, if you can, because they’re going to have to guard him."
--VAN GUNDY: VOTED FOR FOUR CELTICS ALL-STARS--
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy admitted before Sunday's game that he voted for all four Celtics All-Stars on his coach's ballot, and he continues to marvel at ageless wonder Ray Allen and his pursuit of Reggie Miller's career 3-point record.
"Well [Allen is] going to get [the record], that's for sure," said Van Gundy. "I was just saying today, at least in the time I've been in the league there's nobody who even compares to those two guys. And it's not just their ability to shoot the ball, I mean, the energy with which they play and that Ray plays [with] and the plays he makes off the catch-and-shoot. You try to get a second defender to him to take away the jump shot and he makes the plays to open people. As good as they are offensively, they give us trouble in a lot of areas. The hardest thing we have to defend is him running off screens and not just because of his shooting, but, when you take that away he can make all of the plays."
Could Allen tie the 3-point record Sunday? He's five away from Miller and he's made five trifectas in a game far more often than you might imagine. For his career, Allen boasts 114 games with five 3-pointers or more (including twice this season, both against the Heat). Given that he's played 1,071 career games, that's 10.6 percent of his games, making it not-so outlandish to think he could at least make a charge at matching the mark on a national stage.
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