WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics eased back into practice Thursday, simply watching film and going through a brief walkthrough, but coach Doc Rivers said that he expects all of his players available for Saturday’s Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat, including center Shaquille O’Neal.
“Everybody’s good,” said Rivers. “Everybody is feeling pretty good. Shaq went through practice, we didn’t do anything today, we just watched film and walked over some stuff, and then the second unit [not including O'Neal] worked on their stuff. Right now, we expect every single guy, including Shaq, to play [in Game 3].”
The Celtics emerged with a rash of bumps and bruises after Tuesday’s Game 2 loss that put them in a 0-2 hole as the series shifts to Boston. Paul Pierce suffered a left Achilles strain, Ray Allen endured a chest bruise from a LeBron James elbow, and both Rajon Rondo and Jermaine O’Neal battled balky backs.
But Rivers stressed that none of those injuries should keep any of that quartet off the floor. And only a setback will detour Shaq, who is expected to play limited minutes off the bench.
Asked why he’s now more confident that Shaq could play, Rivers said with a laugh , “Because he told me he was going to play,” then added, “[Team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] thought he would play, so I do expect him to play. If he didn’t, it would be because something went wrong in practice with his body. But right now, I expect him to play.”
Rivers admitted the team isn’t sure what Shaq’s practice workload will look like this week in order to prevent the sort of post-activity soreness he experienced after his first full on-court workout Monday in Miami. That soreness contributed to him not being active for Game 2.
“We’re not going to let him do too much,” said Rivers. “Someone will ask: How much is too much? Hell if I know. I don’t know what too much is. Walking on the floor could be too much. We’ll figure that out.”
Allen was the only starter to come onto the floor during the portion of practice open to the media. He said the chest bruise, courtesy of a LeBron James elbow, is lingering, but won’t keep him off the court Saturday. He playfully showed the bruised left pectoral, before noting much of the mark had gone away since Tuesday’s game that forced him to return to the locker room due to shortness of breath.
"It's still a little tight,” said Allen. “It wasn't bad, but I couldn't do some of the things I wanted to do when I worked out. It feels a lot better from two days ago."