After sitting out Monday's session with what he dubbed "mild" back spasms, Delonte West returned to the practice court Tuesday afternoon and is expected to play Wednesday night when the Celtics kick off their exhibition slate against the Philadelphia 76ers in Manchester, N.H.
"My back feels great," West said after practice. "[Celtics trainer] Ed Lacerte and [team masseuse] Vlad [Shulman] did a great job of working those things out of there. No complaints here."
While admitting that a lack of fluids or proper stretching might have contributed to the spasms, West refused to blame his tireless work ethic this preseason, in which he's been the last person out of the gym every day but Monday when he was plagued by the spasms.
"You can never work too hard," West said with a smile.
Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal missed his third straight session due to a sore left hamstring, but watched portions of practice from the sideline, then came onto the court -- a couple bandages near the injury -- and put up shots after the session.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he'll exercise caution with anyone that develops an injury during the preseason.
"[Delonte will] play [Wednesday]," said Rivers. "He went through the whole practice. Now, again, [Wednesday] morning, he may wake up and the back could tighten up. It's one of those things where, if a guy has anything [ailing him], then they're not playing. It's not worth it right now."
PRACTICE SCRIMMAGE: FIRST UNIT RALLIES PAST SECOND
The second unit more than held its own for much of the scrimmage, leading 18-17 with 20 seconds to play, but Shaq hit a pair of clutch free throws as the first squad escaped, 21-18.
"We do need to see somebody else, I can tell you that," Rivers said, noting that Wednesday's exhibition game will be a nice break from beating up on each other. "And we need to see the NBA officials, because [Boston players] are sick of [the coaching staff] officiating. Other than that, I'm happy with where we are at. We'll get a better look at it [Wednesday]."
Of note during the practice session: Erden put an nice move on Shaq for a bucket in the paint that helped the second unit grab the brief lead. Shaq continues to heap praise on Erden, but asked about the move, simply nodded and acknowledged, "Nice move, nice move" ... Delonte West is clearly the energy with the second unit and his ability to both handle the ball and attack the basket is going to be what drives the reserves this season. The team will miss him when he's suspended for the first 10 games of the season ... Glen Davis committed a travel trying to upfake Kevin Garnett at one point, but still drove the lane as coaches called the infraction. Shaq stepped up and hammered Baby to the floor. After being scraped off the ground, Davis got a hug from the fellow LSU product.
PRACTICE BEFORE GAMES
Rivers noted the team will come to Waltham for an afternoon practice session (no contact, heavy on conditioning) before even boarding the bus to Manchester, N.H. for Wednesday's exhibition opener. With that in mind, he plans to limit the minutes for his players, particularly his starters who he suggested would only play around 8-14 minutes.
"It'll be great, but I'm not going to play guys big minutes or anything," said Rivers. "We're going to practice [Wednesday] pretty hard, then go right to the bus and right to the arena. Some of the guys will be tired. That's fine. I'm not worried about that."
Rivers believes the exhibition opener will give him a greater sense of where his team is at and what the Celtics must work on moving forward.
LOOSE BALLS: BRADLEY STILL SIDELINED; ROOKIES READY?
Rivers indicated that rookie guard Avery Bradley remains sidelined after sitting out all of training camp due to offseason ankle surgery. "No, he's done some skeleton offense, but that's it." ... His fellow rookies, Erden and Harangody, should see plenty of minutes in their first real NBA action Wednesday. Rivers said he couldn't get a read on the excitement level for either player quite yet. "No, I don't know. Hell, Semih, I have no idea. And Luke speaks as much English as Semih because he never talks. I have no idea what they're thinking. They'll probably be pretty fired up by [Wednesday]." ... Former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson was among the team's guests Tuesday. No doubt he put in a good word for Mario West.