Doc Rivers hit the airwaves this morning on WEEI and gave us an update on the latest involving the statuses of Jermaine O’Neal and and Shaq as they inch closer to a return, to help boost this team’s size and strength down low:
“Jermaine will join us in Indiana, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to play,” said Rivers. “But he will join us in Indiana [on March 28]. Danny went down to look at him, I guess he looks great. Hopefully Shaq will be back within the next five or six days as well.”
That timetable should align well for a return for both guys next Thursday night in San Antonio. The C’s follow that contest with a back-to-back in Atlanta Friday night, so Doc could try to do some manuevering here and have Shaq return one night, and Jermaine the next or vice versa, to give both guys a chance for some run. Whatever the case, the chance for Troy Murphy to see any significant playing time even through the regular season or diminishing quickly.
A few other notable tidbits from that interview:On Rondo:
“It’s coming back, I will say that. I thought he went through a little stretch where he was struggling. I would say the last three games you can see it coming back. Even last night, I thought he forced the issue a little bit, and that was good in some ways. Some shots aren’t going in for him, but I think his attacking is back and that’s good.”
On Differences in Slumps Between This Year and Last Year:
“Last year was more us doing that on purpose, not losing games but resting guys. We used the last 15, 20 games as preseason because we were not healthy and trying to get healthy. This season we are waiting for a couple of our bigs, no doubt about that. We’ll change our ration. When you think about Shaq starting and Nenad coming off the bench with Baby, that changes your bench, makes your bench stronger. But we still have to play better and improve. We have to get our rhythm back in some ways and we have time to do that. But that’s why we need to work.”
That last response there is the scary part. Last year, they had a plan. Most thought it wouldn’t work, but the guys in the locker room believed it the entire time. This year, the losing, well that’s not part of the plan. Throw in all the new bodies and injuries into the mix, and you have yourself a heck of a challenge on your hands with even stiffer competition this year in the playoffs. Further letdowns are not an option, if Boston wants to improve its seeding and with road games at Miami and Chicago likely to be crucial in deciding the top three seeds, the C’s need to find their rhythm by then, or pay for it during their entire postseason run.