Shaquille O'Neal starts vs. Heat
MIAMI -- Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal participated in Thursday's morning shootaround and was in the starting lineup against the Miami Heat, while Jermaine O'Neal said he is pondering sitting out the remainder of Boston's four-game road trip.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers had dubbed both players game-time decisions, but both seemed fairly certain of their status before Boston's 112-107 win. Shaquille O'Neal said his bruised right knee, which has sidelined him for the past five games, was feeling good enough for him to get back on the court. He had five points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes against the Heat. Jermaine O'Neal, who sat out the second half of Monday's loss in Dallas with lingering left knee soreness, said it has showed no improvement the past two days.
Rookie center Semih Erden played 8 minutes and scored three points. Glen Davis kept his usual sixth-man role off the bench, scoring six points and grabbing nine rebounds in 28 minutes before fouling out. Rivers did note that even Erden is banged up, nursing a left shoulder ailment that Rivers suggested will eventually need surgery.
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Needless to say, Kendrick Perkins can't return soon enough from offseason ACL surgery.
"[Erden's] shoulder is what it is, it's not in great shape," Rivers said. "He'll have to have something done on it eventually. We're just hoping to get through the year, at least get through to [Perkins' return]. That's basically what we're thinking. We basically have to somehow get these three guys to survive until Perk comes back, and that's what we're trying to do."
Shaquille O'Neal sat on the sideline at American Airlines Arena before the game, catching up with some old friends from his time in Miami and joking about residuals from his rap career. When the topic shifted to basketball, he deemed himself ready to go.
"[The knee] was a little sore last night, but I was sore all over, I'll be all right," said O'Neal, nodding when asked if he expected to play Thursday. "I can handle minor pain, but I was having pain when I stepped. If there's pain when I'm stepping, what's going to happen when I try to run? I don't have that pain any more, just some little knots in my calf. I'll be all right."
Jermaine O'Neal was far less optimistic, expressing concern that swelling in his left knee, which developed after a game in Cleveland last month, could force him to the sideline for an extended break.
"To be honest, [the knee] feels the same as [Wednesday]," said O'Neal, admitting the lack of progress after two off-days is frustrating. "It's coming to the point where, I may have to just take time off. We have a great staff, great doctors, but the swelling -- the body reacts to something and I just gotta put my hand on it, what it's reacting to. It's become painful -- painful to run and stuff like that.
He later added that he would seek a second opinion from Miami-area doctors.
"I'm going to get a second opinion, just a thing that a player should do," he said. "Obviously, I believe in our staff a lot, I support our doctors and we have some of the best doctors in the world. But i just want to get a different opinion. See if everybody's on the same page. This is the third time it's blown up on me, so i have to do something.
"Obviously, I'm new to the team. I know our doctors have checked over my records, but being [in Miami] for two years, they dealt with it and I didn't have any issues when I was here. [The knee] was strong, so I'm just kinda getting their opinion, then putting it with our doctors and getting them together for a conclusion on why the knee is blowing up the way it's blowing up."
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.
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