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Thursday, May 5, 2011
Updated: May 6, 11:14 AM ET
Shaquille O'Neal expected to play

By Chris Forsberg
ESPNBoston.com

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics eased back into practice Thursday with a film session and a brief walkthrough, and coach Doc Rivers said that he expects all of his players available for Saturday's Game 3 -- including center Shaquille O'Neal.

"Everybody's good," Rivers said. "Everybody is feeling pretty good. Shaq went through practice ... 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 are down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. A loss in Game 3 would put them on the brink of elimination.

The Celtics emerged with plenty of bumps and bruises after Tuesday's Game 2 loss. 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 O'Neal.

Asked why he's now more confident that O'Neal could play, Rivers said with a laugh, "Because he told me he was going to play.

"[Team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] thought he would play, so I do expect him to play," Rivers added. "If he didn't, it would be because something went wrong in practice with his body."

Rivers admitted the team isn't sure what O'Neal's practice workload will look like this week. The Celtics want to prevent the sort of post-activity soreness he experienced after his first full on-court work Monday in Miami. That soreness contributed to him not being active for Game 2.

"We're not going to let him do too much," Rivers said. "Someone will ask: How much is too much? ... 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 is lingering, but won't keep him off the court Saturday.

Allen playfully showed off his bruised left pectoral, noting much of the mark left by LeBron James' elbow had gone away since Tuesday's game. At the time, it forced him to return to the locker room for a bit due to shortness of breath.

"It's still a little tight," Allen said. "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."

Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.