Coach Doc Rivers confirmed that Shaquille O'Neal would not play against the Thunder, but both coach and player expressed hope he could suit up later in this four-game road trip.
"When I got on the plane, Shaq came on the plane," Rivers said before the Celtics beat the Thunder 92-83. "That's how much decision I made in it. I don't even ask. I never do. If he's healthy, he comes. If he's not, he doesn't. If he thinks he has a chance to play -- and that's between him and [Celtics trainer] Eddie [Lacerte], then he comes. But I never get involved in that. At least I try not to. I don't ever want a player to feel like I'm pushing him."
O'Neal, who has a bruised right knee, has been sidelined ever since bumping legs with New York Knicks' Amare Stoudemire late last month. Sunday's game was be the fourth straight game he's missed and left Boston with only 11 active bodies. O'Neal noted he wouldn't have come on the weeklong journey if he didn't expect to suit up.
"I'm always going on the trip, unless it's one of those 'out for four-to-five weeks' diagnosis," said O'Neal. "But I'm close. I just want to be out there at least [at] 80 percent with the guys. I don't want to be out there half[way]."
O'Neal said last week that he needs to be able to push off on his leg without pain before he gets back on the court, adding there's one spot that remains troublesome -- near the top of the shin.
Jermaine O'Neal made his fourth consecutive start in Shaq's absence.
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.