One of the keys to Boston being in this in June — one of the reasons that Kendrick Perkins could be traded — was that Shaquille O’Neal could do the job in the middle.
The Celtics will not have Shaq for game one against New York and maybe longer, Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge told the media Saturday. Here’s the word from our man A. Sherrod Blakely at CSN New England.
Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, made the announcement this afternoon with team physician, Dr. Brian McKeon.
“He has been making progress,” Ainge said. “We tried to get him out there to practice today, simulate the game as much as we could. He’s not ready. We don’t know when he’ll be ready.”
McKeon said the trial O’Neal was involved in consisted of him running, a test McKeon acknowledged O’Neal had failed.
“It didn’t work,” McKeon said. “It’s just too sore. We’re going to spend another … get back to tomorrow and hopefully we’ll get him back soon.”
They tried to have him run and shut him down due to calf and Achilles issues. Those are what have kept him off the court for all but five minutes since Feb. 1.
No Shaq makes beating Knicks more difficult — you’d like to be able to pound them inside — but if Boston’s defense is focused and Rajon Rondo gets back in his groove they should still win (the Knicks have a puncher’s chance).
To get that offense back in a groove, Rivers said he is dumbing the offense back down to the basics, as reported at Celtics.com.
“I’m cutting out literally half of our offensive playbook,” Rivers told the media after Friday’s lengthy practice, which lasted about two and a half hours. “I made a choice: I’d rather run a couple things well than a lot of things average or poor.”
Less than a week ago, when the Celtics were in Miami being trounced by the Heat, Rivers was picked up by ABC’s microphones telling his team, to paraphrase, “Keep it simple. Keep the game simple.” When he didn’t see his players return to that level of simplicity, he decided to make the decision for them.
There may be no more entertaining series than Boston and New York, which gets underway Sunday night in Beantown.