Rivers expects Shaq to play in Game 3

WALTHAM — It’s hard to get too excited about an update that Shaquille O’Neal might be close to playing in a basketball game, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers today offered the most definitive statement on O’Neal’s potential return, saying that O’Neal could play in Game 3 on Saturday.

“Right now we expect every single guy, including Shaq, to play,” said Rivers.

Rivers said the Celtics did not practice today, so the team did not get a chance to look at O’Neal in a practice situation. If you’re keeping track, O’Neal has gone through one full practice with the team since leaving a game on April 3 with what the Celtics described as a calf strain. That practice was Monday in Coral Gables, Fla. On Tuesday, Rivers said Shaq was “sore” and not ready to play in Game 2 that night.

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If Shaq does play on Saturday, Rivers said he will not start.

The more significant injury news out of Waltham today may be that Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Ray Allen are all “fine”, according to Rivers, and will play in Game 3. Pierce’s Achilles tendon strain appeared to be the most serious injury of the bench.

“Today he could have played in a real game, but we’re not going to let him practice,” said Rivers. “But I think he’ll be fine.”

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