MIAMI -- Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal was limited in the Heat's full practice Sunday in Miami. He participated in shooting drills, rode a stationary bike and worked on plays with team, but did not fully practice.
O'Neal's availability for the start of the Eastern Conference finals against the Detroit Pistons, which start Monday night at 8 ET, remains a mystery because of continued concern over his bruised right thigh.
A source told ESPN's Rachel Nichols that 10 days ago, there was so much blood collecting into a hematoma in Shaq's thigh, doctors had to stick him with a needle and drain it. The first day they took out about 80cc's of blood, the next day they took out about 20cc's.
The source added that since then, the bruising has lessened somewhat, and when Shaq does play again, he'll wear a protective covering to prevent further injury. The Heat would not comment on the specifics of Shaq's injury.
Shaq practiced with the Heat on Saturday, participating
in 5-on-5, full-contact, full-court basketball for the first
time in 11 days. He was held out of some later portions of the
workout, a move designed so that he wouldn't overtax the sore
muscle that has bothered him for five weeks.
Still, he was noncommittal about being ready for Monday's Game 1
with the Pistons, saying he "hopefully" would be in the Heat
starting lineup against the defending NBA champions.
"We just have to keep playing well," said O'Neal, who hasn't
played since Game 2 of the East semis with Washington. "I don't
want this to be about me. I haven't been out there for a couple
games, and the team has been playing well. If I play, we're going
to do the same thing. If I don't, we're going to do the same
Meanwhile, the Pistons -- who ended Shaq's quest for a fourth NBA
title last season, beating the Los Angeles Lakers in five games for
the league championship -- steadfastly believe the 7-foot-1,
327-pound force will be raring to go when the series opens.
"That's what Shaq wants y'all to think, that he's hurting,"
Pistons forward Ben Wallace said. "Shaq is going to be ready to
play. Don't keep feeding into that. There's nothing wrong with
Added Detroit forward Rasheed Wallace: "It doesn't matter if
he's 100 percent, [or] 55 percent, he's still going to demand that
double team and special attention. To me, he's the greatest player
O'Neal was injured April 17 when he was inadvertently kneed by
Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal while defending a drive to the basket. He
hasn't been the same since, yet still averaged 18 points and 8.2
rebounds in Miami's first six playoff games.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.