A nice mix of news to get you through the morning, as the C’s prepare for their potential first round playoff preview with the Philadelphia 76ers tonight.
We’ll start with KG’s latest ANTA blog (h/t: ESPNBoston) where the Big Ticket vents about losing Shaq and reflects about getting back JO amongst other things. Here’s an excerpt:
I know I haven’t written since the Spurs game, so my bad. It was the first game for JO in a while, so was pumped to have him back with us. Spurs game was like a playoff game. We “hit” each other back and forth and both teams took the shots. Rondo was super intense and brought it! Great TEAM effort and body feeling good. The guys got me in the right spot to make shots and so I had to knock them down. Great energy in the lockerroom.
Bad part was the back to back in Atlanta. We started out ok, but then started to get out of what we do. We weren’t getting stops and taking early shots. Frustration is definitely setting in for some of the guys, but we’ll meet and get it together.
Tonight we had Detroit and the BIG Diesel was back! It was great to have him back and seeing him ball. He was killin it, then he pulled up! Damn, hurt again! That sucks! Keep rooting for him to get right!!! We won the game, obviously, but lost Diesel. This time of year we are trying to get ready for the playoffs, but it’s tough to get rest when we have 7 games in the next 10 days! We gotta finish strong, so we can get right for the playoffs.
Here’s the latest on Shaq via Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald who could return as early as Friday against the Wizards on the second half of back-to-back:
“We don’t have to rush him,” Ray Allen said. “But there is going to be a point where length is going to be important and we need him.”
Rivers isn’t about to fuel the fires in potential first-round opponents Philadelphia (tonight’s foe) or New York, but he knows his lads may have to deal with some rough road if they are to complete the trip to the NBA Finals.
“The bottom line is we have to be ready for whatever happens, and our team will be ready for whatever happens,” the coach said.
As for talk of shutting Shaq down until the postseason, Rivers said, “If that’s what it requires. We’re going to do whatever they tell us is required. Other than that, I would love to play him a couple of games.
“It’s just a calf strain and not that bad, not that severe. He may play at the end of the week; we’re just not sure yet. Eddie (Lacerte, team trainer) and (team physician Dr. Brian) McKeon thought (it’s a) minor injury, not a big deal — except for it’s Shaq, he’s big and he’s 30-whatever (39).”
The coach has said he needs at least one O’Neal, but he’d like a full house of Shaq and Jermaine, with a side order of Nenad Krstic and, of course, the indispensable Glen Davis.
“When they’re all there, I like them,” Rivers said. “I just want them all to be there. I think they will be; I really do.
“I don’t know if it’ll be with games played going into it, but if that’s what it is, you’ve just got to deal with that. But I do think they’ll all be there.”
Prediction here we see him for the team’s final two games of the regular season (Washington and New York) in order to help him get geared up for the postseason run. Shaq’s presence would appear to be much more useful in a series against the Sixers than the Knicks who really have no bulk to threaten the C’s inside besides A’mare. I wonder how the seeding dictates (if at all) how the team proceeds with him for the first round and beyond.
Finally, Troy Murphy and Nenad Krstic are both probable tonight after going through practice yesterday in Waltham, giving the team as close to a healthy 15-man roster, since the opening days of the season. Here’s Chris Forsberg from ESPNBoston.com with a full update on both big men:
Murphy, who rolled the ankle during a practice on March 24, had worn an immobilizing boot early on, but expressed a desire to get back on the floor Tuesday.
“I’m hoping,” said Murphy. “I got through practice today and hopefully [Tuesday] morning I’ll wake up and it doesn’t blow up on me.”
Murphy tried to maximize the time away from the team, digging further into the playbook, hoping that will aid his cause upon return.
“I tried to make the most of it,” said Murphy. “I watched the games, figured out the calls and stuff like that.”
Krstic is probably the less likely of the two to rush back on the floor. While ecstatic that the injury was much less severe than he previously imagined — the bone bruise revealed by an MRI in Boston on Saturday — Krstic admitted he was a bit hesitant on the floor Monday.
“It’s still in my head a little bit,” admitted Krstic. “There were times I might have been a little afraid to jump. But I’ll be ready. In practice, [the knee] felt fine.”
Said Rivers of Krstic: “We’ll wait [until Tuesday morning to decide], obviously. I thought Nenad was tentative, honestly. But he got through the whole practice; That was great. So we’ll see [Tuesday].”
Added Rivers on Murphy: “If he can play, we’ll play him. Again, we’ve got to make sure [he's healthy]. He went through the whole practice and you never know what happens overnight with an ankle and swelling and all that.”
Finally, a long overdue tip of the cap to Satch Sanders who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame yesterday. Bob Ryan over at The Boston Globe had a terrific writeup on Satch this morning:
Satch Sanders likewise did the dirty work for the Celtics. What Red Auerbach, Bill Russell, and Tom Heinsohn wanted out of him was to guard the other team’s high-scoring forward, hit the boards, set picks, and snack on a few offensive crumbs here and there. Somebody had to do it, and Sanders did it well enough to help those ’60s Celtics teams win eight championships.
No man could be more comfortable in his own skin or be more realistic about just where he fits into the Big Scheme Of Things in both Celtics and NBA history. He was not a star. He never even had a faint sniff of an All-Star appearance. He was a worker bee, and he was, well, cool with that.
That’s why this Hall of Fame thing will take a while to settle in.
“I never expected this,’’ he said. “Not after all those years went by and all the others went in. I figured the time had certainly passed for me. The reality is that I’m catching up to the other guys again. That’s the truth of it.’’
By “the others’’ he means the 11 teammates of the ’60s and ’70s (he played from 1960-73) who have preceded him in Springfield. The only prominent members of the bunch that won every available title in the ’60s, except for 1967, who do not reside in the Hall of Fame are Jim Loscutoff and Don Nelson (who may yet be enshrined as a coach)
Much more on the way later today…..