WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed optimism about the potential for guards Rajon Rondo (dislocated left elbow) and Delonte West (left shoulder bruise) to be available for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat, but admitted the team would wait for MRI results for both players before gauging their potential to play Monday night.
Regardless of what those tests reveal, and whether the duo can be effective on the floor if limited by injury, Rivers said there's no excuses moving forward.
"I’m optimistic about both, that they’re going to play," Rivers said. "I don’t know why I am, but I am. I just don’t know how well either one can play. But like I've said, if you’re on the floor, you're healthy, and that’s the way it’s been. That’s been my motto since I've been here and our guys believe that. I think it was Kevin [Garnett] actually who said it, what I always say, 'If you’re in uniform, you’re healthy. If you’re not healthy, you’re not in uniform.' That’s how we always viewed it. And we will make no excuses [Monday]. [Monday] is a playoff game, it’s Game 4, and we have to win. That’s all we have to think about."
Rivers said the trainer's room was a popular hangout on Sunday morning with team trainer Eddie Lacerte a man in demand. As expected, Rivers confirmed that Rondo was in a lot more discomfort after the adrenaline wore off and his elbow swelled up. Rivers had originally expressed pessimism about West after Saturday's game, even as the player suggested he was fine, but test results will offer better clarity about the pair's potential moving forward.
Rivers stressed that, even if the MRIs check out OK, the Celtics might not truly know the status of both players until Monday's game, when they'll undergo the more discerning eyeball test. Rivers said as long as the players are not hurting themselves or the team, he expects them to play if physically able.
Elsewhere on the injury front, Shaquille O'Neal (right calf/Achilles) experienced expected soreness after logging 8½ minutes in Game 3, his first game action since April 3 (and only his second appearance since Feb. 1). Rivers said he expects the 39-year-old center to be available for Game 4.
"It’s day-to-day with Shaq and his body, and his life in the NBA, but I do think he’ll be able to [provide a similar effort to Game 3]," Rivers said.
Paul Pierce, who suffered an Achilles strain in Game 2, was one of the few players on the court before the team's afternoon film session (Glen Davis, Ray Allen and Jeff Green were among a handful of others). Pierce appeared to be experiencing no lingering effects after a near 41-minute effort Saturday.
A handful of other notes from Sunday's session:
* Forget Mother's Day; mum's the word: Allen wasn't about to tip his team's hand in regards to whether Rondo might be able to play in Game 4. "I have no opinion on that," Allen said. "Obviously, [Sunday] is a whole day that you have to rest, so that's going to be up to him." Asked whether Rondo could get through a whole game with only one arm truly available, Allen said: "You've got to ask him that." Further pressed if he could play with one arm, Allen smiled and offered: "I don't know. We've got a doctor back there, you guys probably [have] to ask him."
* Let's go to the tape: Rivers said he had no interest in watching Rondo's injury while going through film review: "I didn’t watch it. I fast-forwarded when that part came. I didn’t want to see it. But I heard it was bad." ... Rivers did however watch how Rondo ended up in the cringe-worthy scene after getting tangled with Dwyane Wade scrambling for a loose ball and rejected the notion it was an intentional and dirty play by Miami's star guard. "I don't know, it was a hard foul," Rivers said. "Let's put it like this: He didn't intend to hurt Rondo. I honestly don't believe that, in 99 percent of the cases in our league, the player ever intends to hurt someone. But he did and it happens."
* Arroyo active again?: If Rondo and West are even limited, it's likely the Celtics would have to activate backup point guard Carlos Arroyo, who dressed for the first two games of the series before being deactivated Saturday with the return of O'Neal. Said Rivers of the former Heat guard: "It helps that he knows their stuff. But knowing our stuff is really important as well. And he's been here long enough, so he knows that as well.
* Oooh Baby, Baby: Davis on being a more consistent presence on the floor: "I've just got to play better. Point blank." The follow-up asked what the problem had been thus far and Davis shot back: ""Me. That's it. Point blank."