Practice notes: JO ready; Shaq likely out

WALTHAM, Mass. -- A collection of news and notes after the Boston Celtics practiced Monday afternoon at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint:


Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal (right knee bruise) sat out his second consecutive practice session Monday and, while he traveled with the team to Detroit, coach Doc Rivers did not expect him to be available when Boston visits the Pistons Tuesday night.

Barring an overnight setback, Jermaine O'Neal (sore left knee) will return to action after missing Friday's game against the New York Knicks and should start in Shaq's place. Jermaine O'Neal went through a full practice session for the second straight day and is eager to log some extended minutes after a cocktail of injuries (hamstring, back, wrist, and knee) have limited him since the start of training camp.

"I'm going to play whatever Doc wants me to play," said Jermaine O'Neal. "I haven't bee able to get a lot of minutes in the preseason and I'm not playing a lot so far in the regular season, so I am a little itchy. But it's a long season and that's something we talk a lot about here, it's not about how you do at the beginning of the year."

Jermaine O'Neal thinks the ability to log extended minutes with the first unit could help him snap out of his season-opening funk and find that rhythm that's escaped him. Even when healthy, he hasn't been able to stay on the court very long, fouling out in a mere 12 minutes against Cleveland, the same game in which his latest knee injury flared up afterward. But he thinks he's over the hump.

"It feels that way," said O'Neal. "It's been one thing after another. It's probably the only span of my career where I've dealt with multiple issues."

Regardless of whether Jermaine O'Neal is able to start and log heavy minutes, it's almost a guarantee that rookie center Semih Erden will see his first NBA floor time. Teammates spoke glowingly about his potential, but Rivers admitted he's developing slowly (as the team expected) and remains raw.

Rivers said there isn't one part of his game that stands out above the other right now.

"Defensively, he's OK at knowing our stuff," said Rivers. "Offensively, he's a great picker and roller, but he needs to learn how to finish better. He's really struggling offensively at the basket. But he'll get that."

As for Shaq, he spent another day in the pool, keeping his wind up by swimming alongside Kendrick Perkins and strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo. That limitied the wear and tear on a knee bruised during a fourth-quarter collision with Amare Stoudemire Friday night. Shaq's waiting for the soreness to subside before diving back into action.

"It feels a little better," he said. "It's a little sore to push off. Once it gets to the point where I can push off with little or no pain, then I'll be ready.

"As you get older, it takes time for your body to replenish the chlorophyll. I heard that yesterday on the Planet Channel, so I just wanted to throw that out."


* WCVB's Mike Dowling printed out pictures from the Celtics' Halloween adventures and brought them to practice for players to rate. As Jermaine O'Neal studied the shots, Shaquille O'Neal invaded and got the rundown on what everybody dressed as. He didn't register a vote, but did correct Jermaine O'Neal when he butchered the name of his "twin sister," Shaqeeta.

* Rivers said he hadn't seen any of the costumes, but also found the chatter amusing. After asking if Shaq looked comfortable as Shaqeeta, Rivers laughed when informed, "A little too much."

* O'Neal initially played coy when asked about Shaqeeta. "Do you know what this guy's talking about?" he asked. "Oh, my twin sister? She came into town on me. She is a [whirlwind]. I try [to keep my eye on her]."

O'Neal later admitted that safety concerns put a crimp in his plan to ride the MBTA rails out of downtown Boston.

"When you're in law enforcement, you've got connections -- and connections got you," said Shaq. "I got a call from somebody important who said it probably wouldn't be safe for me, or anybody else, to do that on a train. It I had Tweeted it, there probably would have been a lot of people there and not really safe. That changed my plans. But I had a blast... If you saw [the photos of Shaqeeta] and laughed, that's all I wanted."

* Kevin Garnett on the Halloween festivities: "It was good to see everybody. Obviously, off the court, it's always good for the families and to interact with friends. Personal time is always good for us and we had a great time; Good food, I felt like I was back home."

Garnett dressed as DJ Lance Rock from the Nickelodeon kids' program, "Yo Gabba Gabba." Trouble was that was lost on some of his teammates. Jermaine O'Neal said people initially though he was John Sally's prison character from the movie, "Bad Boys."