A few tidbits out of Waltham before the team gets back to work tomorrow night in New York against those streaking Knicks. Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com gets us up to speed on the injury situation on the team’s first practice in a week. This time 11 healthy players participated with Paul Pierce and Glen Davis finally having fully shaken off flu-like symptoms:
* Shaquille O’Neal (calf) did not participate in the session and spent most of his morning in the weight room. He remains questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Knicks.
*Jermaine O’Neal (knee) did not practice with the full team and likewise spent his morning in the weight room. It appears he’s still not cleared for group activities and remains working out on his own. Jermaine O’Neal has missed 15 games with lingering left knee soreness and resumed individual on-court workouts last week hoping to get back to full-team activities this week.
A few thoughts on how the injuries will affect the Knicks game, as well as some talk from Paul Pierce on the “rivalry” situation with NYK after the jumpThe interesting thing to me about this matchup is how the big man rotations will stack up. This New York squad is a far different animal from the one we saw Boston beat in their first head-to-head game back in October. Boston won 105-101 that Friday night, but it’s not just about how well New York was playing that night. It’s about who was playing.
Mike D’Antoni is now playing a whole different rotation now, with just seven guys getting regular minutes, including Amar’e Stoudemire at the starting center spot. The Russian rookie center, Timothy Mozgov, who started that Friday night game has now been relegated to bench and spot duty. Ronny Turiaf and Toney Douglas instead have become the only guys getting regular run off the pine.
I mention this because it leaves the C’s in an interesting situation regarding the undersized Knicks and specifically Shaquille O’Neal. Now there’s no doubt if the big fellow gets the green light medically, the team could use his 15-20 minutes strictly for depth purposes if nothing else at the starting 5 given without him the team has just three guys in their rotation (KG/Baby/Erden) that can be counted on for minutes.
Given how much the Knicks will go small though and the fact Shaq will likely have to guard Amar’e when he’s out there makes the C’s extremely vulnerable in the pick and roll game. The truth is, it’s probable Boston would go small a lot in this contest with Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis, with or withold O’Neal back in the fold to try to contain the league’s hottest player in Amar’e.
So with this in mind does Boston rest him? That isn’t clear, but it would shock me if they save him for the Atlanta game Thursday night if they are only going to play him one night out of two, given the damage he could inflict against the undersized Hawks.
Jermaine Continues to Take His Time
Jermaine O’Neal continues to take it slow with his rehab and it will shock me if we see him before the new year which probably is the very earliest with his return. No doubt the team is being cautious with him, but it wouldn’t shock me to hear some grumbling about the speed this return is progressing at.
By now, you’ve probably heard the rivalry talk that is getting front page attention around the internet this afternoon from The Captain himself. Here is the exact quote from PP from WEEI.com:
“It’s a rivalry? You [media] let me in on all the new stuff,” Pierce said. “I didn’t know we had a rivalry going.”
The Celtics enter Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden on a 10-game winning streak while the Knicks have won their last eight to stand just four games behind Boston in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.
“We have bigger goals than winning streaks,” Pierce said. “I didn’t know we had a rivalry going. If that’s what you all want, if it’s going sell more tix, get more viewers, I guess so. You [media] all make up the rivalry, we don’t, to be honest. At the end of the day, we’re playing for championships, not certain opponents.”
The fact this statement of fact has become a national story is more comical than anything else at this juncture. Though it will be fun to watch a game that means something in MSG for a change.