Shaq out vs. Thunder

Chris Forsberg/ESPN Boston

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Greetings from Oklahoma City, where cowboys and lassos greet you outside Will Rogers World Airport.

The Celtics went through a light shootaround Sunday morning in advance of tonight's clash with the Thunder. Coach Doc Rivers confirmed that Shaquille O'Neal will not play against Oklahoma City, but both coach and player expressed hope he could suit up later in this four-game road trip.

"When I got on the plane, Shaq came on the plane," said Rivers. "That’s how much decision I made in it. I don’t even ask. I never do. If he’s healthy, he comes. If he’s not, he doesn’t. If he thinks he has a chance to play -- and that’s between him and [Celtics trainer] Eddie [Lacerte], then he comes. But I never get involved in that. At least I try not to. I don’t ever want a player to feel like I’m pushing him."

O'Neal (right knee bruise) has been sidelined ever since knocking bumping legs with New York's Amare Stoudemire late last month. Sunday's game will be the fourth straight he's missed and will leave Boston with only 11 active bodies, but he noted he wouldn't have come on the weeklong journey if he didn't expect to suit up.

"I'm always going on the trip, unless it's one of those 'out for four-to-five week' diagnosis," said O’Neal. "But I'm close, I just want to be out there at least [at] 80 percent with the guys. I don't want to be out there half[way]."

O'Neal said last week that he needs to be able to push off without pain before he gets back on the court and there's one spot that remains troublesome near the top of the shin/start of the knee.

Jermaine O'Neal is set to make his fourth consecutive start in Shaq's absence.

More to come from Oklahoma City later this evening.