Despite a bruised right knee that has kept him out of the past three games, Shaquille O’Neal accompanied the Celtics on their road trip that begins tonight in Oklahoma City.
Doc Rivers had previously expressed slight doubt that Shaq would travel with the team on the four-game trip that also includes stops in Dallas, Miami and Memphis. Needless to say, against that slate of contenders (… and the Grizzlies) Shaq’s presence in the lineup would be helpful. He still might not play, although the fact that he traveled with the team is a good sign.
Shaq, who has fit in nicely while averaging 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, was the Celtics’ starting center to begin the season. Jermaine O’Neal has filled in during Shaq’s absence, and while J.O.’s offensive game started to come around with his increased playing time, he had the same amount of rebounds against Chicago as Shaq did. And Shaq didn’t even play.
Is anybody else shocked at the recovery time for some of these injuries? Shaq suffered a bruise and missed at least three games. Avery Bradley sprained his ankle in June and still hasn’t returned. I’m pretty sure Kendrick Perkins’s torn ACL will heal before Bradley steps on the court, and I’m barely joking. I know the Celtics are creaky, but things are getting kind of ridiculous. Oh well, no need to rush Shaq back. Let his bruise get all better first.