Doc expects Rajon Rondo for Game 4

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed optimism that guards Rajon Rondo (dislocated left elbow) and Delonte West (left shoulder bruise) will be available for Game 4 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat, but admitted the team probably wouldn't know until game time whether both players definitely could play Monday night.

Everyone participated in Monday's walk-through, the Celtics public relations staff told ESPN.

"I think [Rondo's] ready to go," Celtics backup point guard Carlos Arroyo said. "He's a warrior and he demonstrated that last game. We were all surprised, the fact that he came back after that injury. I know he's ready. He wants to play, he wants to win. And Delonte, he was banged up but he's ready to go. I'm always ready. I'm always ready for the challenge and obviously playing my old team would be even more motivating for me."

Regardless of whether Rondo and West 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 Sunday. "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."

Results of an MRI and CAT scan were all negative on Rondo's left elbow.
Rondo dislocated the elbow in Saturday night's playoff game after crashing to the court in a tangle with Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

Rondo remained on the floor while the team doctor rushed out to attend to him. After a few minutes, Rondo was helped to his feet and walked off the court, with Dr. Brian McKeon immobilizing Rondo's left arm. Boston's medical staff was able to pop it back into place.

West suffered a shoulder bruise late in the first half.

He felt so much improved Sunday morning that he did not even undergo tests on the left shoulder. Like Rondo, Rivers expects West to play and only a flareup of that injury would keep him off the court in Game 4.

"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," Rivers said. "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.

Rivers stressed that 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.

Ray 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," said Allen. "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."

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]," said Rivers.

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. Pierce appeared to be experiencing no lingering effects after a near 41-minute effort Saturday.

If Rondo and West are limited, it's likely the Celtics would have to activate Arroyo, who actually 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.

The Heat lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.

Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.