MIAMI -- Celtics guard Rajon Rondo remains in the starting lineup for Game 5, but coach Doc Rivers admitted that he's still in a lot of pain and the team will watch to ensure he's not a liability as he plays through the pain of a dislocated left elbow suffered in Saturday's Game 3 win over the Heat.
"[The elbow is] not much better, I can tell you that," said Rivers. "In some ways, I think he’s actually in more pain than going into Game 4. But I think he at least has an idea on how to deal with it more. We’re hoping that he can give us something and, if he can’t, we’ll have to make a decision on the floor."
River stressed the biggest concern is for Rondo to step up in help defense and provide the necessary physicality.
"That requires a physicality and he literally couldn't do it," Rivers said of Rondo's defense in Game 4. "That put us in a real bind. We thought it opened up too many driving lanes and that's the one thing you can’t afford. We have to try a couple things, one, is to keep him out of those positions, if possible. Two, he just had to do it. If not, then we have to make a decision."
The Celtics will be without the services of Shaquille O'Neal, who is back on the inactive list after suffering a setback with his right Achilles/calf after playing a total of 12 minutes the past two games. Rivers reiterated that O'Neal might ultimately be out for the remainder of the postseason, even if Boston is able to fight back from a 3-1 deficit in this series.
"I would say most likely," Rivers said when asked if the 39-year-old center could be out for the playoffs. "But who knows. I don’t know our exact record, but when Shaq played 21 minutes or more this year, we were 21-4. It was no coincidence to me that Rondo got off to start he got off to because Shaq was moving and athletic and quick with Kevin [Garnett] and that starting group. Rondo had so much room on the floor. Honestly, since that point, [O'Neal has] never been near that [healthy]. So, for us, it’s been tough. For him, it’s been far tougher. I always say with us, when players are injured, I still get to coach tonight. [O'Neal] doesn’t get to play at all, he doesn’t get to be in the fray at all. For a guy like Shaq, that would be very difficult."
Rivers said Boston might shorten its rotation, but center Nenad Krstic could see some time if Kevin Garnett's minutes start escalating. Joining O'Neal on Boston's inactive list Wednesday are Avery Braldey and Sasha Pavlovic. The Heat inactives are Erick Dampier, Jamaal Magloire, and Dexter Pittman. Miami is sticking with Udonis Haslem, after a less-than-stellar return to game action in Game 4.
"The most important thing when I made the decision to active [Haslem] was because of his leadership," said Mike coach Erik Spoelstra.