Workout, then figure it out
Shaq’s status to be clarified today
WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal will have two light training sessions and one full practice to prepare for the Celtics’ playoff opener against the Knicks Sunday. O’Neal’s status — he has not played since sustaining a calf injury April 3 — will not be determined until after today’s workout.
Asked if he thought O’Neal would play, coach Doc Rivers replied, “I do. But I can’t guarantee that. Tomorrow and the following day are the big days for Shaq. He’s going to try to get through practice and see what he can do.’’
The Celtics had a film session followed by a walkthrough yesterday, the day after they ended the regular season with a 112-102 win over the Knicks, giving them a 56-26 final record.
O’Neal played 37 games this season, but only 5:29 of one game since Feb. 4. He recovered from an Achilles’ tendon injury, then strained his right calf.
Keep your guard up Guard Delonte West was held out of Wednesday’s game as a precautionary measure as he recovers from a sprained ankle. “His gait was normal and he said he can play today if there was a game,’’ Rivers said. West’s role could expand in this series, as the Knicks present difficult matchups with point guard Chauncey Billups. “There’s no second unit in the playoffs — there’s a first-and-a-half unit,’’ Rivers said. “[West] is big for us because he can play multiple positions in this series. Because of their guards, we need a guy like that.’’ . . . Ray Allen and Paul Pierce played in the first 80 games, then were held out of the final two. “Just not having the pounding, get back to some normal sleep patterns, that’s good for your body,’’ Allen said. “Just waking up in the morning, you feel more refreshed.’’ Allen played 2,890 minutes this season, his most since the 2005-06 season with Seattle. Allen also had career-best percentages on field goals (.491) and 3-pointers (.444). Pierce had career-best percentages on field goals (.497) and free throws (.860).
It’s not the same The Celtics lost 11 of their final 21 games for the second straight season, but Rivers said there “was a whole different scenario’’ this time. “Last year we didn’t make a lot of changes [at] the trade deadline,’’ Rivers said. “But we had a ton of injuries and we had them to our starters. And we made a decision: If we kept going the way we were going last year, we were not going to have a chance to win by playing our guys the minutes. I don’t think we ever lacked effort [this season]. We may not play well, we may not have great focus, but I don’t think anyone who’s watched us can ever call us a lazy team or a team that’s not ready to play. I think that’s an easy way to explain it but I don’t think that’s ever been this team.’’ . . . Rivers hopes the Celtic newcomers will benefit from extra practice days. “It’s nice, because we can work on some of our stuff,’’ Rivers said. “We can simplify stuff for our new guys, get everybody get on the same page. They haven’t had a lot of time — it’s less than seven [practice] days. More importantly, they haven’t had multiple days where you have a practice and another practice so you can actually work on stuff. And I think that will help all of them.’’
Matchup game Kevin Garnett will be matched with the Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire. “We’ll have to use different guys,’’ Rivers said. “Obviously, Kevin will get the most amount of minutes on him. And, then Carmelo [Anthony] and Chauncey — I don’t think any of those three are one-guy guys. You’re probably going to have to use multiple guys.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.