Sometimes I get the feeling Jermaine O’Neal’s daily routine goes like this:
1) Eat a bowl of Lucky Charms
2) Save all the marshmallows for the end because, duh, best for last
3) Drink the leftover milk, which — I lied about best for last — is the best part of any bowl of cereal, though marshmallows are a close second
4) Take a shower, being careful not to scrub too hard because damn it, that hurts
5) Contemplate season-ending surgery
Perhaps O’Neal doesn’t always follow through with steps 1-4, but the Boston Celtics center is definitely pondering season-ending surgery as the Celtics surge without him. Doc Rivers said Tuesday that he is preparing for life without JO the remainder of the season. (MetroWest Daily News)
Rivers told the media that it “obviously doesn’t look good” for his chances of returning to the Celtics the more time O’Neal debates whether to have surgery on his wrist, and he’s prepared to ride this rotation out under the assumption that whether O’Neal has the surgery or not he won’t be available to the team down the stretch.
“If he plays for us,” Rivers said, “it’s a bonus.”
When the Celtics began the season with O’Neal as their only natural center, I thought to myself: “What will happen in early March when O’Neal is contemplating season ending surgery?” But now that O’Neal IS contemplating season-ending surgery, it’s unclear whether the Celtics really need him.
A real center, especially one who can block shots and take charges, would be a luxury off the bench, but Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett and Chris Wilcox have all filled in well at the five. (Note: Please let me try to forget yesterday’s 57-38 rebounding deficit, and especially Samuel Dalembert’s part in it.) With Doc Rivers preaching a nine-man rotation, O’Neal might have an uphill battle to rejoin the rotation even if he does return.
I hope O’Neal comes back. His interior defense is useful. But due to how well others have adapted to manning the middle (plus the fact that very few potential playoff opponents have legitimate post men), his importance isn’t as high as I once perceived it to be.
On the other hand, KG has now played a combined 79 minutes in back-to-back games. May the lord have mercy on his body.