MIAMI -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said ailing center Shaquille O’Neal “looked terrific” going through an entire practice Monday, but soreness makes him doubtful for Tuesday's Game 2 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat.
“He looked great [Monday], went through the whole practice,” said Rivers. “He was phenomenal, actually... But by the end of practice, he was struggling walking, so we’ll see. I would say Game 3 is becoming likely. Game 2, we’re not sure yet, but I doubt it.”
Rivers said O’Neal participated in his first scrimmage work since aggravating the right calf/Achilles injury while playing 5½ minutes against the Detroit Pistons on April 3. It’s the only game action he’s logged since Feb. 1.
“He can [run during the scrimmage], but it’s the after-effects of doing it,” said Rivers. “Just watching him walk on the bus, even this morning, the recovery time is just tough for him.”
The Celtics have the benefit of three full offdays between Tuesday’s Game 2 in Miami and Saturday’s Game 3 in Boston, which would allow the 39-year-old center more time to heal. But Rivers stressed again that, as soon as O’Neal is ready, he’s going to put him on the floor and believes he’ll be an impact player.
“Hell, if he told me today he can play, and [team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and them said he could play, I’d have no problem playing him,” said Rivers. “At the end of the day, unlike all of us, he’s big. You know what I mean? When we play him, he’s still going to be big. He’s still going to be bigger than anybody on the floor. And if that’s for two minutes or 40 minutes, you’re still big. Height matters.”
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