WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics center Nenad Krstic (bruised right knee) and forward Troy Murphy (right ankle sprain) returned to the practice court Monday and both expressed hope that they'd be able to get back on the floor Tuesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers preferred a wait-and-see approach to ensure neither injury flares up overnight, but noted that both got through practice without incident. Boston enjoyed a whopping 14 available bodies Monday, this in a season where simply having enough players for a 5-on-5 game was a luxury.
The one missing player, of course, was center Shaquille O'Neal, who suffered a right calf sprain Sunday against the Pistons. O'Neal, previously sidelined since Feb. 1 with right foot injuries, was in only his sixth minute back on the court when the injury occurred. Rivers continues to stress that the injury is minor and O'Neal could be back on the floor later this week.
"We're pretty good, except for Shaq," Rivers said when asked about team health. "I know what I know. Basically, it's a calf strain. It's not that bad, not that serious. He will not, probably, play the rest of this week, but... he may play at the end of the week."
The Celtics play a back-to-back Thursday in Chicago before hosting Washington on Friday. It would seem the team might be eying Sunday's tilt with the Miami Heat, seeing as that tilt might be key to securing the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Rivers said he didn't talk to O'Neal about the injury, just leaning on the info relayed by the team's training staff.
"I just talk to [team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte]," said Rivers. "I don't talk to players on that one, because they all feel good. Eddie and [team physician] Dr. [Brian] McKeon thought it was minor. It's not a big deal, except for Shaq, because he's big and he's 39."
Murphy, who rolled the ankle during a practice on March 24, had worn an immobilizing boot early on, but expressed a desire to get back on the floor Tuesday.
"I'm hoping," said Murphy. "I got through practice today and hopefully [Tuesday] morning I'll wake up and it doesn't blow up on me."
Murphy tried to maximize the time away from the team, digging further into the playbook, hoping that will aid his cause upon return.
"I tried to make the most of it," said Murphy. "I watched the games, figured out the calls and stuff like that."
Krstic is probably the less likely of the two to rush back on the floor. While ecstatic that the injury was much less severe than he previously imagined -- the bone bruise revealed by an MRI in Boston on Saturday -- Krstic admitted he was a bit hesitant on the floor Monday.
"It's still in my head a little bit," admitted Krstic. "There were times I might have been a little afraid to jump. But I'll be ready. In practice, [the knee] felt fine."
Said Rivers of Krstic: "We’ll wait [until Tuesday morning to decide], obviously. I thought Nenad was tentative, honestly. But he got through the whole practice; That was great. So we’ll see [Tuesday]."
Added Rivers on Murphy: "If he can play, we’ll play him. Again, we've got to make sure [he's healthy]. He went through the whole practice and you never know what happens overnight with an ankle and swelling and all that."