Shaq will miss tomorrow’s Game One, and the Celtics don’t know when to expect him in the lineup. He’s still listed as day-to-day, but after seeing Shaq run during today’s practice, the team has shut him down indefinitely. I would say I’m surprised by this development, but my parents have always taught me not to lie. Thankfully, the Knicks’ starting center is Ronny Turiaf.
With Shaq out, the Celtics will rely more heavily on Jermaine O’Neal. For the first time all season, the other O’Neal’s body is cooperating. Knee issues kept him in and out (and mostly out) of the lineup for most of the regular season. But now he feels good, and he can focus on the one goal he prizes most—winning an NBA title. (ESPN Boston)
“I don’t have any issues,” O’Neal said. “The knee, it was a big test and that’s what we wanted to do against Washington — see how many minutes I could play, and see what the reaction was the very next day. I had no reaction at all.
“Going through this knee situation and going through it one time before, you can tell during a game. I’d have been able to tell during the game. When we went into the overtime I was like, ‘OK, now I’m really going to be able to see where I’m at,’ because the knee tends to tell you when it’s tired and when it’s not doing very well, and it felt fine. It felt fine getting off the plane. The next day I woke up, put my foot on the ground and sat there for a second, and got out of bed, and felt fine.”
During that overtime game O’Neal played 37 minutes, or, in other words, enough that I thought his leg would shatter like a sheet of glass dropped from a fourth-floor balcony. Instead, he felt no pain before, during or after the game. Success.
Which is good, because whether O’Neal reaches his ultimate goal, an NBA title, could now hinge on his health and performance. The Celtics say Shaq will be reevaluated on a daily basis, but the prognosis does not sound promising.
“You play a long time and you look at it like this: You’ve got 16 wins and you’ve achieved something that you’ve looked for for so long, so that’s how I see it,” O’Neal told ESPN ‘s Greg Payne. “That’s what I talk to my family about. I’m 16 wins away. No matter what I’ve been through in my career, it can be justified by winning a ring.”
After months of cursing his body, I’m starting to fall in love with Jermaine O’Neal (pause). But I leave you with one parting question, a real question: Have we already seen Shaq’s final NBA minutes? Doc Rivers says no. “We don’t know when,” he said, “but [Shaq will] be back.” Let’s hope so, because while Shaq shouldn’t be needed to combat Turiaf, his presence would certainly help matters in the later rounds.