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Celtics Notebook

Krstic aiming for tomorrow

Calls knee injury ‘nothing serious’

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / April 4, 2011

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With Shaquille O’Neal on the shelf for at least a few days with a minor right calf strain, the Celtics are fortunate Nenad Krstic’s recent right knee injury didn’t cost him the season. In fact, he could return to the lineup tomorrow night.

Coach Doc Rivers said the organization feared Krstic tore his meniscus, which would have cost him at least six weeks. But the Serbian big man worked out yesterday and was in the locker room before last night’s 101-90 win over the Pistons at TD Garden.

Krstic injured the knee during a collision in the second quarter of Boston’s 107-97 win over the Spurs Thursday. He tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in 2006, but said he knew this injury was different.

“I knew right away it was not my ACL,’’ Krstic said. “It’s still a little bit sore, but probably I’ll play next game. I’m just happy that it’s nothing really serious. A lot of things go through my head when that happened. I’m just trying to focus on finishing the season.’’

With Jermaine O’Neal back, the Celtics briefly entertained the possibility of all three big men soon being healthy when Rivers announced yesterday that Shaquille O’Neal was cleared to play by trainer Ed Lacerte — although Rivers had not seen him participate in basketball activities. But 49 seconds into the second quarter, O’Neal was felled by the calf strain, and Rivers’s plans of integrating the center back into the rotation may be scrapped.

“We have to have, I kept saying, one of the O’Neal brothers is important,’’ Rivers said after the game. “And then Krstic is important. He has to be healthy. If we have that we do have size, but we have to have one of the [O’Neals].’’

Jermaine O’Neal got the start against the Pistons, allowing Glen Davis to move back to his more comfortable role off the bench. Jermaine O’Neal played 18 minutes, the most since his return from left knee surgery, and he pulled down six rebounds and scored 5 points.

Davis ended up logging 36 minutes with 11 points and six rebounds.

In relaxed state Ray Allen has not attempted more than 11 shots in a game since March 21, a span of seven games. Rivers said he thought Allen needed to relax and was over-dribbling trying to create offense. Allen, who attempted just six shots last night, disagreed.

“I feel very relaxed,’’ he said before the game. “I don’t think I’m dribbling a lot. You guys think I’m dribbling a lot. Right now I think attempt-wise, I’m not getting a lot but I can’t say that I’m not relaxed on the floor. I feel good. I felt like I have felt all year. Nothing about me is different. Nothing about me has changed.’’

Allen did acknowledge the offense has issues. The Celtics have been sputtering, with 10 consecutive games of fewer than 100 points before a 107-100 loss to Indiana March 28.

“I’ve felt this way for a couple of weeks . . . we are making it harder on ourselves,’’ he said. “My [shots] are always interesting because I’m open for a split second and then I’m not. So you have to make the best with what you have. I think when I do score more we have greater chances.’’

The numbers prove Allen right. The Celtics are 18-4 when he scores 20 or more points in a game.

Allen began last night with a 17-footer just 18 seconds into the game and then sustained a cut on top of his head in a collision with Detroit’s Richard Hamilton. Allen did not take another shot in the first half and attempted two in the third quarter. He connected on all three shots in the fourth. He finished 5 for 6 for 13 points.

Murphy working out Rivers said Troy Murphy (sprained right ankle) is working out, but there is no projection for his return. Murphy has not played since March 23 . . . Allen said Rajon Rondo has to wear UConn gear for three straight days after the Huskies’ Final Four win over Rondo’s alma mater, Kentucky. Allen also said he believes Jim Calhoun will return next year as UConn coach . . . Rodney Stuckey did not play after refusing to enter Friday’s loss to Chicago in the fourth quarter. He said he wants to return to the club next season, though.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com.

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