The Celtics practiced this morning in Miami, in preparation for their Thursday night tilt in Miami. In a change from usual practice protocol, the C’s met with the media before they actually had their practice, which left a lot of speculation for head coach Doc Rivers concerning the availability of both of his big men. Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston has the full coverage in his Practice Report but for now, here’s what we know as the team headed in practice today:
A few quotes from Forsberg’s Practice Report all parties before we attempt to breakdown a C’s big man rotation consisting of Glen Davis, Semih Erden, and Luke Harangody if both O’Neals have to sit.
J. O’Neal: “I’m feeling better,” said Jermaine O’Neal, wearing a white-gauze wrap over the left knee, but still reluctant to reveal too much on the injury, including the full details of a recent “procedure” on it.
“It’s a little better than it was [Tuesday]. I’m just trying to gauge the pain factor. I’ll know [Thursday morning], it won’t be a game-time decision for me. It may even be after shootaround. We’re just trying to figure out what’s actually happening — why the knee is all of a sudden swelling.
“I think it could be situation where, I did have a procedure done, basically I didn’t take time off after the procedure and kind of aggravated it.”
Doc on Shaq’s Chances: “Listen, I don’t know how much he’s going to give us, No. 1., and, if he can give us a lot [Wednesday], I’m not going to allow him to give too much, because I’d rather have that [Thursday].”
If you’re a C’s fan there are two fronts you can look at this from. One side says, be cautious here, it’s just eight games into the season, no need to risk either veteran big man if they aren’t close to 100 percent. It’s the safe choice and more likely than not, the smart choice.
I’d be inclined to agree with that rationale, if this was a game against the Nets or the Raptors. We’re talking about the Heat here though, on national television. The hype obviously isn’t as big as it was in the season opener, but these guys, especially Shaq love to play under the bright lights. Is one or both O’Neals more likely to suck it up for 15-20 minutes given the big stage? I’d say it’s a better than 50-50 chance.
However, if there was one team the C’s could probably get away with not having either of their veteran bigs, the Heat would be one of their better draws. Joel Anthony, and Big Z aren’t going to send shivers down the spines of Semih Erden and Glen Davis. In fact, without either O’Neal the door would open up for Big Baby to see 35+ minutes of action, which given his start this year probably gives this team the best chance to win right now.
Davis playing that many minutes also opens up the door to foul trouble being a huge problem with such little depth, which could force Luke Harangody into some meaningful minutes, especially if the team doesn’t want to push KG’s minutes too hard.I like Harangody, I just don’t want to see him try to guard Chris Bosh.
Anyway you slice it, there are pros and cons to any decision the team makes here. They undoubtedly want to send Miami into their first losing streak of the year, but at what cost?
My gut says we see Shaq Diesel give it a go, strictly for his six minutes of action at the start of each half ,to go along with the six fouls he has to give on Miami’s Big Three if and when they are needed. The team’s decision though should be a precursor into just how much they are willing to push these hobbled vets this early into the year.