Shaquille O’Neal made it through the Celtics’ shootaround this morning, Jermaine O’Neal did not, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers still doesn’t know who he’ll start at center tonight against the Miami Heat. Rivers said there was a “fairly good” chance that Shaquille O’Neal would play. If neither O’Neal is healthy enough to go, the logical fill-in would be Glen Davis, but with Davis playing so well off the bench Rivers said that he would consider starting Turkish rookie Semih Erden. “I probably would start Semih, because No. 1, he’s with better players and [that] gives him a better chance to function,” Rivers said. “No. 2, it keeps Baby at his natural position.”
The Celtics brought the O’Neals in over the summer as reinforcements for Kendrick Perkins, who will be out at least until January rehabbing a torn ACL. Since the start of the season, the pair has only played in the same game twice, the season opener in Miami and the next night in Cleveland before being bitten by the injury bug. Jermaine O’Neal has fought knee soreness since the Cleveland game and Shaquille O’Neal was kicked in his right knee by the Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire two nights later.
“We knew it would happen. We didn’t know it [would be] to this extent this early. It’s nothing we can do about it. Obviously, it kills your rhythm, because you’re going in and out. And a lot of times, neither one of them are practicing. It’s just tough to really get going like that. It’s tough to have any rhythm. But it’s what we have. We kind of assumed it could happen, and it’s happening, so you just kind of deal with it.”