Desperate times call for desperate measures.
And right now there is no desperate measure quite like Shaquille O’Neal.
Boston coach Doc Rivers told the media today that Shaq would be a go in Game 3 Saturday at the Boston Garden, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely at CSN New England. Rivers also said that the rest of the banged up Celtics — Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, really pretty much all of them — will play in Game 3, too.
I get your skepticism on Shaq. I do. (We remember how many times we heard KG was coming back from the Celtics in 2009.) But I tend to believe this is going to happen. The Celtics are desperate for a change and they have had three days off between games to rest him. Shaq will not start but will play.
This could be good news, but how good is in question.
The Heat have had their best success this season when they have gone small, with Chris Bosh at the four and Joel Anthony at the five. Shaq changes that — even at this age and as hobbled as he is, Shaq can post up and back down Anthony, scoring quite easily over the undersized center. He will force the Heat to adjust to Boston for the first time this series.
Problem is, how much can Shaq really play. He has played 5 minutes of game time since February, and this is a player not exactly known for his conditioning in the first place. Can he go 10 minutes?
From how the first two games of this series looked, 10 minutes of Shaq is not going to be enough without some other dynamic changes for Boston
Shaquille O’Neal practiced with the Boston Celtics Thursday and Friday.
He’ll play against the Miami Heat. At some point in the series. Probably.
Yes, I know, pretty vague. But that’s what the Celtics have left us with. CSN New England gives us the quotes from Doc Rivers himself.
“He just did a little bit yesterday,” Rivers said of O’Neal’s involvement in Thursday’s session. “Maybe (he’ll do) some more today, and really, that’s the only update that I have. There’s no decision made or anything….
“I’m more confident now that he will play in the series,” Rivers said. “Maybe (game) one, maybe two but I do think he’ll play. I guess he’s done some stuff with (trainer) Eddie (Lacerte). Eddie’s more confident that he’ll play so that makes me more confident.”
Well, that clears everything up.
Shaq may not decide this series, but he does change things. His presence and scoring ability in the post makes it hard for Miami to play Joel Anthony, the undersized center who is the Heat’s best help defender and shot blocker in the middle. It’s just one of the little matchups that will all add up to some big differences in this series.
Finally there are no more delays, no more reasons to put it off, Shaquille O’Neal is going to practice with the Boston Celtics on Friday, according to a tweet from Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. Two days before the first game against the Heat.
Depends on how it goes. Doc Rivers was being pretty Zen about it, according to A. Sherrod Blakely at CSN New England:
“At the end of the day, either he can do it or he can’t,” Rivers said. “And we have to find out.”
Last time he tried running and practicing the team shut him down again. He has played just 5 minutes of game time since Feb. 1 as they tried to get him right because the time was going to come they really needed him.
That time is now.
Starting Sunday, against Miami, that is when Boston needs Shaq to dominate the glass, be a big body in the paint on defense and to provide enough offense inside to draw defenders and create spacing.
So Friday Shaq practices. And then we’ll see.
Now we return to Shaq Watch 2011… and still no sign of the big man.
He did not practice Wednesday and will not Thursday according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England on twitter. That does leave open the chance that he practices on Friday and will be ready to go Sunday, but do you want to bet on that?
Things are getting serious because the Miami Heat loom starting on Sunday (unless Philly can extend the series to seven games, which is not happening), and we have still seen just five minutes of Shaquille O’Neal since Feb. 1 due to Achilles and calf issues. This round the Celtics are going to be able to exploit his ability to score in the post, they need him back.
The Celtics were simply a much more efficient team on offense when Shaq was paired with the Big Four (Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo). While the Celtics got quality play out of Jermaine O’Neal in the first round sweep of the Knicks, the Celtics are going to need more out of the center position to get out of the second round.
They clearly don’t need him against New York — Boston is up 3-0 in the series — but the plans to have Shaquille O’Neal back continues to be pushed back.
Doc Rivers has ruled Shaq out for Game 4 at Madison Square Garden Sunday, according to ESPN Boston.
“He’s not playing [Sunday],” said Rivers. “We didn’t do anything to see honestly. We didn’t practice, we just walked through. I’m not going to put him out on the floor.”
Not a big deal for Sunday. Boston blew out the Knicks in Game 3 at Madison Square Garden and now the series is merely a formality. Maybe it ends Sunday, maybe they go back to Boston for a Game 5 on Tuesday. But either way the writing is on the wall.
But the Celtics will need Shaq against the Heat in the next round and getting him some run before being thrown into that fire would have been a boost. The good news is rumors are it will be next weekend before that series starts, so Shaq will get plenty of time to get right.