MIAMI -- Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal participated in Thursday's morning shootaround and said he expected to be in the lineup against the Miami Heat, while Jermaine O'Neal said his sore left knee showed virtually no improvement and is pondering sitting out the remainder of Boston's four-game road trip.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers dubbed both players game-time decisions, but both seemed fairly certain of their statuses. Shaq said his bruised right knee, which has sidelined him for the past five games, is feeling good enough for him to get back on the court, while Jermaine O'Neal, who sat out the second half of Monday's loss in Dallas with lingering left knee soreness, said it showed no improvement despite extended rest over the past two days.
"Shaq participated in shootaround and Jermaine participated a little bit," said Rivers. "Both will be game-time decisions. I think there’s a fairly good chance that Shaq will go. Then Jermaine, I’m not so sure.
"We knew it would happen; We didn’t know to this extent, this early. There’s nothing we can do about it. Obviously, it kills your rhythm, to keep going in and out, and a lot of times, neither one of them is practicing. So it’s just tough to really get going. You feel like that because it's tough to have any rhythm. It’s what we have and we kinda assumed this could happen -- it’s happening -- so we deal with it."
Rivers suggested that, should both O'Neals be unable to play, he'd likely lean on rookie center Semih Erden in a starting role, allowing Glen Davis to keep his usual sixth-man role off the bench. Rivers did note that even Erden is banged up, too, nursing a left shoulder ailment that Rivers suggested will eventually need surgery.
Needless to say, Kendrick Perkins can't return soon enough from offseason ACL surgery.
"[Erden's] shoulder is what it is, it’s not in great shape," said Rivers. "He'll have to have something done on it eventually. We’re just hoping to get through the year, at least get through to [Perkins' return]. That’s basically what we’re thinking. We basically have to, somehow, get these three guys to survive until Perk comes back, and that’s what we’re trying to do."
Shaq sat on the sidelines at American Airlines Arena catching up with some old friends from his time in Miami and joking about residuals from his entertainment career. When the topic shifted to basketball, he deemed himself ready to go.
"[The knee] was a little sore last night, but I was sore all over, I'll be alright," said Shaq, nodding when asked if he expects to play Thursday. "I can handle minor pain, but I was having pain when I stepped. If there's pain when I'm stepping, what's going to happen when I try to run? I don't have that pain any more, just some little knots in my calf. I'll be alright."
Jermaine O'Neal was far less optimistic, expressing concern that swelling in his left knee, which developed after a game in Cleveland last month, could force him to the sideline for an extended break.
"To be honest, [the knee] feels the same as [Wednesday]," said O'Neal, admitting the lack of progress after two offdays is frustrating. "It's coming to the point where, I may have to just take time off. We have a great staff, great doctors, but the swelling -- the body reacts to something and I just gotta put my hand on it, what it’s reacting to. It’s become painful -- painful to run and stuff like that.
"It's more likely that I won’t play tonight and if I don’t play tonight, I probably won’t play any more this trip, just to give it some time."