Krstic, Murphy could be back Tuesday

BOSTON -- While the Celtics will welcome center Shaquille O'Neal back to the lineup tonight, coach Doc Rivers said they will still be without fellow big men Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy, but suggested both could return as early as Tuesday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Celtics feared Krstic suffered a right meniscus injury late in the first half in the Celtics' win over the San Antonio Spurs last Thursday, but an MRI on Saturday revealed nothing more than a deep bone bruise. Rivers said Krstic worked out earlier today and should be ready to play Tuesday.

"I thought that [Krstic] would be out, maybe for the year, because originally we thought meniscus at best," Rivers said. "[It's just] a deep bone bruise. He actually worked out today, and probably will play Tuesday."

Krstic said he was scared when he first suffered the injury and needed the MRI to ease his mind.

"I was thinking it was more serious. I was thinking maybe I didn't [tear my] meniscus, but maybe damaged it a little bit," Krstic said. "Right now I still feel pain, but I'm just really happy. I'm happy [that it's] nothing serious."

Murphy, meanwhile, will miss his sixth consecutive game since spraining his right ankle in practice on March 24.

"I think [Murphy will be back] soon," Rivers said. "I know he felt better. He worked out today, so I would say maybe next game. I don't know that, but I think he's going to be back soon."

Rivers said he will bring Shaq off the bench and start Jermaine O'Neal in the middle. Rivers said Jermaine O'Neal suffered no setbacks after playing in his first two games since returning from left knee surgery on Thursday and Friday, and prefers to keep reserve big man Glen Davis -- who started at center against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday -- in his customary role off the bench.

"[Jermaine's] feeling good," Rivers said. "Because he kind of has some of the stuff we're doing down, you can play him. I never like starting [Davis]. I just think he's better with that second unit, so that's why we're throwing J.O. in there."