So, the Heat isn’t actually on for another four days, but Shaquille O’Neal’s trying to chase the pain away.
He collided with Amar’e Stoudemire in the Celtics Oct. 29 win over the Knicks and suffered the bone bruise in his right knee that’s kept him out the past three games. Doc Rivers had no expectations for the 38-year-old big man to make the four-game road trip that starts tonight against the Thunder. Then, he saw the 7-footer board the plane.
“When I got on the plane, Shaq came on the plane,” Rivers said. “That’s how much decision I made in it. I don’t even ask. I never do. If he’s healthy, he comes. If he’s not, he doesn’t. If he thinks he has a chance to play – and that’s between him and [trainer] Eddie [Lacerte], then he comes. But I never get involved in that. At least I try not to. I don’t ever want a player to feel like I’m pushing him.”
O’Neal said he wanted to travel just in case he felt healthy enough to play.
“I’m always going on the trip unless it’s one of those out for four-to-five week diagnosis,” O’Neal said. “But I’m close, I just want to be out there at least [at] 80 percent with the guys. I don’t want to be out there half [way].”
O’Neal will sit out tonight against the Thunder, but said he wanted to play either the next three games of the trip or the last two. He said he wanted to be at “80 percent” before he stepped back on the court, and right now assessed himself at “65 percent.” The area behind his knee still keeps him from being able to run fully, he said.
“It’s just one little spot,” he said. “Once that goes away, it’ll be all right. Every time I run on my toes then I feel it. It slows me down.”
In the meantime, he swore at this morning’s shootaround, it’s icy to dull the pain, hot to relax it away.
“It’s fabulous!” he said, in pitchman mode. “Icy Hot is the [freaking] best. Thank you Icy Hot!”