Pratice notes: Shaq likely out Wednesday
Celtics coach Doc Rivers indicated that center Shaquille O'Neal is unlikely to be ready for Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers as the soon-to-be 39-year-old's right foot is bothering him again.
O'Neal, sidelined the last 12 games due to an inflamed right Achilles, had lobbied Rivers to return as early as Sunday's visit to Milwaukee. Rivers instead targeted Wednesday, but O'Neal was unable to get back on the floor for Saturday's practice, which will likely push him back a bit.
"Shaq is probably not going to be back Wednesday, it looks like," said Rivers. "His foot is bothering him again a little bit."
O'Neal hasn't been on the court since Feb. 1 and news of a setback was greeted with little more than shrugs by a Celtics team that's been decimated by the injury bug this season.
Boston practiced with a mere 10 players Saturday as Glen Davis (left knee strain), Von Wafer (right calf sprain), Jermaine O'Neal (left knee surgery), Delonte West (right ankle sprain), and Shaq did not participate. Davis did come onto the floor for some light shooting following the session.
West observed practice from the sideline. After missing the last three games with the ankle injury, Rivers is hoping to get him back on the court Wednesday, but the team will take a wait-and-see approach with him as well.
Rivers said Wafer is likely to miss two or three games as he allows his calf to heal after tweaking it Friday night against Golden State; Davis was already projected at a week's absence after tweaking his already ailing knee Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns.
Rivers did suggest that, as soon as players like Shaq and West are ready to return, they'll be thrust onto the floor.
"Right now, the season is winding down and, if they get healthy, I’m playing them, even if that’s their practice," said Rivers. "We just gotta get them on the floor."
A couple of quick hits from the brief afternoon session, which was open to select guests invited by Comcast, a corporate sponsor:
* With the Celtics scheduled for an afternoon flight to Milwaukee in advance of Sunday night's game against the Bucks, the team held an autograph session before practice with Davis, West, Wafer, and Rondo were among those signing for the fans.
* Rivers said it's almost like training camp for Boston's revamped second unit and he kept all the new players after the brief session for more walkthroughs of the Celtics' playbook.
“It is tough, we have one group that’s been through camp, and then we have another group that’s going through camp," said Rivers. "What you don’t want is, the group that’s been here, you don’t want them out on the floor too much. The group that hasn’t been here needs to be. That’s why we’re doing stuff [post practice] with one group, because the other group is done already.”
* Rivers put an emphasis on help defense with the newcomers Saturday.
“Learning to cover for each other is No. 1," said Rivers. "You can’t do that unless you have an unbelievable focus and intensity, and that’s what we’re trying to show them. I thought they were trying to do the right stuff in the help [defense], but they’re always late, because they’re not ready. A lot of pros practice and they think practice is leisure. We don’t believe that here. It’s quick here, but it’s hard. When you have starters that played 35 minutes [the night before] going hard, then you have your second unit going on cruise control, that’s not going to settle well.”
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