Shaq out for Game 5. Not that anyone will notice.


For those of you playing NBA playoffs fantasy basketball, let’s hope you didn’t pick up Shaquille O’Neal.

After playing 3:31 in the first quarter of Game 4 and picking up two quick fouls and nothing else, Shaq has had a relapse of his calf/Achilles injury and will not play in Game 5, Doc Rivers told the media, according to CSN New England’s A. Sherrod Blakely. Shaq is reportedly dragging his bad leg around the facility.

“”It just never healed, and still hasn’t,” Rivers said. “Every time he plays now, it gets worse. There’s nothing you can do about it.”

Shaq played sparingly in Games 3 and 4, but has not mattered in this series. Other than the Shaq the Celtics had at the start of the season would have created size matchup problems for Miami, and the Heat have needed that.

Miami has gone a lot with a smaller lineup that has Chris Bosh and 6’9” Joel Anthony at the center, and the Celtics have not been able to punish the Heat inside for that. The athleticism of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade is part of that — they can drop down and block shots — but a healthy Shaq would have changed the equation. But you can no longer bet on a healthy Shaq being there.

Boston needs to find a way to make the Heat pay and change that dynamic fast, or their season will end tonight.