When the Boston Celtics take the floor in Atlanta Friday night, Jermiane O’Neal will be the starting center.
But he has been off with knee surgery since January, now playing on the second night of a back-to-back. He can’t be counted on for big minutes. So who follows him?
Good question. It will not be Nenad Krstic, who will miss two games at least and undergo an MRI on his right knee, A. Sherrod Blakely updates us at CSN New England.
That’s not a lot. But the fact they are calling it a “leg injury” and not saying anything about the severity suggests exactly what went through all our minds when we saw it happen — this is going to be bad. Which would be bad for Boston.
Shaquille O’Neal may be back this weekend, or soon. Boston is going to need him. They are likely to get New York or Philadelphia in the first round, two teams that could push Boston (the Sixers are the scariest lower seed in the East). Then the second round would be Miami, where exploiting the Heat in the paint will be a key to winning the series. Boston needs healthy big men to do that.
And right now they have one less.
UPDATE 11:51 pm: The Celtics announced that Krstic will undergo an MRI on his knee on Saturday, after the Celtics return to Boston.
You can count him out for Friday night’s game against the Hawks in Atlanta for sure, as well as Sunday against Detroit. Somewhere in between there we should learn how long he will be out.
7:53 pm: The last thing the Celtics could afford was to lose another center, but that may well be what has happened.
Nenad Krstic’s knee gave out and bent awkwardly when he planted as he ran down the lane in the second quarter. There was no meaningful contact, it was something where his right knee gave out on a cut.
Krstic limped off the court and did not return for the second half.
Officially, the Celtics are calling it a “right knee injury.” However, David Aldridge on TNT spoke to Celtics coach Doc Rivers and relayed this quote:
“We do not know for sure but it does not look good.”
Krstic came to the Celtics as part of the controversial Kendrick Perkins trade and has been pushed into a starting role due to injuries to Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal. Jermaine returned to the Celtics from knee surgery Thursday but his minutes are limited. Shaquille O’Neal will be back sometime between Sunday and the end of the season, depending on who you ask.
If this injury is as severe as it looked when it happened it would hamper what might well have been a center-by-committee approach by the Celtics in the playoffs.