Pregame notes: Shaq to start; JO limited

Chris Forsberg/ESPN Boston

The Celtics return to the Garden to kick off the 2010-11 season.BOSTON -- A handful of news and notes before the Boston Celtics host the Toronto Raptors in exhibition play Sunday night at the TD Garden:

The rundown (a quick look at pregame headlines)

* Shaq to start, JO limited; Bradley out but close

* Loose Balls: Locker selection; 'Sheed's still here, sort of


Celtics coach Doc Rivers said center Shaquille O'Neal will remain with the starting unit Sunday night against the Raptors, while Jermaine O'Neal will be eased in off the bench after missing the first two exhibition games with a sore left hamstring.

"I"m going with Shaq first and Jermaine will be on a minute restriction," said Rivers. "I'll sit Shaq one of the next two games completely and play Jermaine a little bit more. But you have to be careful with that hamstring stuff."

The Celtics have all of their players available for the first time this preseason with the return of Jermaine O'Neal, coupled with the improved health of rookie guard Avery Bradley. Rivers noted, however, that Bradley will not play after experiencing just his first taste of full-contact drills at Saturday's practice.

"I actually think Avery could play, but he's not going to play," said Rivers. "I guess he's cleared; he played a little bit [Saturday], but he didn't look like he could play yet to me. So that's probably why he won't play tonight."

Bradley, sitting in his new locker stall between captain Paul Pierce and Nate Robinson, said before the game that his ankle responded well after Saturday's session and that he's nearing full health. And while he's getting anxious with each preseason game that passes, he understands why the coaching staff continues to exercise extreme caution.

Rivers assured him minutes -- and lots of them -- could be coming over the final five games of the preseason slate.

"I really do hope we can get him out on the floor as soon as possible," said Rivers. "Even if he doesn’t know the stuff, he needs [to play]. Just to break the glass and go play a little bit."


* Sunday's game offered reporters (and even the players) their first glance at a new-look Celtics locker room as newcomers were assigned lockers inside the TD Garden for the new season.

Robinson is the only veteran whose location has changed from last season, moving from one corner of the room (imagine three sides of a rectangle) to the other. He noted it was Rivers' decision to move him, allowing rookie center Semih Erden to be closer to some of the bigs.

Erden is in a row with Kevin Garnett, Luke Harnagody and Glen Davis. Robinson's new location puts him closer to a batch of wings: Pierce, Bradley, Delonte West and Marquis Daniels.

* Bradley smiled when noting he got a nice seat next to Pierce, but quickly joked, "I'm a rookie, they could move me over to the other side of the room tomorrow."

* Rasheed Wallace still has a spot in the TD Garden ... sort of. His image (see picture at right) still hangs in the North Station concourse, where photos of both Celtics and Bruins in game uniform are wrapped around the pillars throughout the train station. Other Celtics decorating the halls include the Big Three, Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins. It seems like only a matter of time before the Garden orders some new ones that feature the O'Neals.

* The 15 contract players, including Von Wafer, occupied the 15 stalls inside the Celtics locker room. Camp invitees Stephane Lasme and Mario West don't have lockers in the main room.

* Delonte West brought his two stepsons into the locker room before the game. Ages 9 and 11, the two took turns putting on Shaq's size 23 sneakers and posing for pictures.