Return of Shaq could be delayed

Shaq wants to fight through the pain.

The Big Leprechaun says he should be returning in a week but Doc disagrees.

The Celtics’ big man Shaquille O’Neal thinks that he will be returning to the hardwood after missing the last 13 games after injuring his right Achilles tendon; however, head coach Doc Rivers thinks it may be longer.

The big guy actually got in some practice recently and at his birthday party yesterday he said that he is 85 percent.  Rivers and Celtics’ trainer Ed Lacerte say it could be longer since they want to play it safe.

So far, it looks like the coaching staff may be right in this instance since some of the pain did return during drills.

So far, Shaq has missed 25 of the Celtics’ 61 games but with the recent loss of Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, the green guys are looking for an identity at center.

The Celtics are 5-0 since the trade with wins over the Clippers, Jazz, Suns, Warriors and Bucks.  Each is poised to miss the playoffs.

Truth be told, it’s a big man that these Celtics need.

Doc Rivers has had to rely on both Glen Davis and Krstic but neither is the caliber of player that a coach should have to rely on heavily at the five position.  Davis flourishes against various undersized benches in the East while Krstic doesn’t really put in heavy minutes.

With Jermaine O’Neal out with an injured knee for another four to six weeks, Boston doesn’t have many options for the center position.

They have been winning and are still first in the league in points allowed with only 91 a game.  This is due to Rajon Rando and Ray Allen’s ability to completely pest anyone on the hardwood.

The Perkins trade made perfect sense for Danny Ainge and the Celtics.  They dumped a big man with a history of injury for another defender in Green.  Nate Robinson was traded as well to the Thunder and Marquis Daniels was sent to Sacramento (soon to be Anaheim).  Both are injured and further prove the point that Boston was aiming to dump anything that could hold them back.

They missed Perkins in the last two games of the Finals last year when he went down with injury and Daniels wasn’t going to help out at all this year.  However, it was Robinson and Davis that had the perfect chemistry against the b-teams of the East.  They will miss that but they have to look to the future.

The Celtics’ remaining schedule is challenging.  They have 21 more games with matchups in Philadelphia, in New York, in New Orleans, in Indiana, in San Antonio, in Atlanta, in Chicago and in Miami.  Even though Boston is set to hold the No. 1 seed in the East, that’s eight road games that will truly test them.

Yes, Shaq is old and has been a minimal force for the Celtics this season but he can start for them.  He will give them some needed grit at the five position and allow them to rotate in Krstic and Davis to fit their styles of play.

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Filed under 2010-11 Regular Season, Players

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