Shaquille O'Neal could play

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Friday he intended to put his team -- and Shaquille O'Neal in particular -- through a short, hard practice session in preparation for Saturday's Game 3 against the Miami Heat. Rivers remained optimistic that O'Neal would play Saturday.

"We're going to have a normal practice, not that long, but we're going to go live and go pretty hard," said Rivers. " It's more just for our team, I think we need it. And secondly, I think Shaq needs it, so it will be great for him."

Pressed on how much O'Neal might do during the session, Rivers said: "I think everything. Once practice starts, if he's tentative on something, we'll stop him. I don't think we helped him with all the stuff we did [Monday], but I thought he needed to do it."

O'Neal, limited to 5½ minutes of game action since Feb. 1, participated in his first full practice session Monday, but lingering soreness prevented him from being ready to return for Game 2 the next day. The Celtics will have to play it careful with O'Neal in order to ensure he can be on the floor Saturday night.

"I can't guarantee anything because of [Friday's] practice and the [potential soreness the] next day, but I am very confident he'll play [Saturday]," said Rivers.

O'Neal emerged from the trainer's room and engaged in stretching activities as the media departed at the start of Boston's practice.

In other injury news, Celtics captain Paul Pierce said he's feeling good after a few days of treatment for the left Achilles strain that temporarily forced him out of Tuesday's Game 2 loss.

"It's feeling pretty good," said Pierce. "Last couple days of treatment, it's feeling pretty good. Just a lot of ice, massaging it. [Stimulation] treatment, electronic shock, little stuff. It was just a minor strain, but it's doing good."

Pierce appeared in an upbeat mood and, pressed on whether he can make a difference in the fourth quarter of upcoming games, this after being ejected from Game 1 and playing through injury in Game 2, Pierce smiled and played along by dropping a third-person reference.

"Paul Pierce being in the game in the fourth quarter is always going to help the Celtics," said Pierce. "Healthy."

Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.