SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Boston Celtics center Nenad Krstic will undergo an MRI Saturday in Boston to determine the severity of a right knee injury suffered late in the second quarter of Thursday's 107-97 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
Krstic's knee bent awkwardly as he ran through the paint on offense late in the first half. He grimaced before collapsing beneath the basket and clutching the knee in pain. He eventually got to his feet and hobbled to the locker room with the aid of team trainer Ed Lacerte. He did not return.
"I don't know," coach Doc Rivers said when asked about the severity of the injury. "He's out, obviously, this weekend, then an MRI. That's as far as I'm going to go."
Krstic, who has started all 18 games for Boston since being acquired in the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City at the trade deadline, had been in a slump recently, but was Boston's only pure center as Jermaine O'Neal (left knee surgery) and Shaquille O'Neal (right foot injuries) rehabbed.
Ironically, Jermaine O'Neal returned to the Boston lineup Thursday for the first time since Jan. 12, playing 11 minutes off the bench. The Celtics would likely be forced to move top reserve Glen Davis into a starting role and keep Jermaine O'Neal in a reserve role, at least until he's healthy enough for the extended minutes a starting role would necessitate.
The Celtics are also hoping that Shaquille O'Neal could be back on the floor as early as next week. Rivers said that he would slide back into his starting role and Krstic was preparing to move to the second unit once that happened.
Celtics captain Paul Pierce said the goal is to simply have everyone healthy for the postseason.
"Hopefully Krstic is not too hurt and he'll be back in a few days or a week or however long he takes," said Pierce. "But we want to be healthy going into the playoffs, bottom line."
Krstic tore his left ACL as a member of the New Jersey Nets in December of 2006 and missed the remainder of the season.
In the 17 games before Thursday's battle with the Spurs, Krstic was averaging 9.9 points and 5.9 rebounds over 25.1 minutes per game.
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.