We are in the waning moments of the countdown to Game 3, so here’s the latest on this dreary Saturday afternoon in Boston to get you ready for tonight’s showdown.
Per WEEI.com Shaquille O’Neal made it through two practice sessions and participated in the team’s morning shootaround on Saturday and looks ready to go for Game 3 of the Celtics playoff series with the Heat, which resumes Saturday night at the Garden. Shaq didn’t speak with reporters although he was spotted in practice gear as the team left the floor.
Tonight’s Referees: Bob Delaney, Bill Kennedy, and Steve Javie. Naturally the Celtics have had a number of run-ins with each of these guys over the past two seasons. Let’s run through each of the problems with the help of Dan Duggan of The Boston Herald and Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com
Kennedy: Rivers and Kennedy have had an acrimonious relationship for years. Both were fined following a game on March 17, 2009. Kennedy ejected Rivers after they stared each other down for an extended period of time.
Rivers was fined $25,000 by the NBA for his critical comments of Kennedy after the game. In an unusual move, Kennedy was fined for his handling of the situation and the news was made public, though the amount was undisclosed.
“[Kennedy] stood there and goaded me and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me,” Rivers said after the game. “Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, ‘Where do you want the ball?’ And I said, ‘Ask them,’ talking about our players. That’s my right to say that, and I walked away. He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, ‘What?’ That’s when I got thrown out of the game.”
Delaney: Delaney drew the ire of Shaquille O’Neal in a Christmas Day matchup against Orlando in which the Big Shamrock fouled out in only 13 minutes of play during a nationally televised battle. O’Neal was fined $35,000 for his comments on the officiating.
Said Shaq of Delaney: “I guess they came out to see No. 26 [Delaney's uniform number] today. He was a great player out there today… [Fans] paid all that money to watch No. 26 play. If I was a fan, I would be pissed. You pay all that money for good seats, you have two of the best guys in the [NBA] sitting on the bench, out of the game. That is what happens when you have control freaks out there.”
Javie: Javie tossed Rivers from a forgettable loss in Phoenix in January (the same game Kevin Garnett got ejected from for his low blow on Channing Frye). Rivers was fined $15,000 for not leaving the court in a timely manner.
Said Rivers of Javie: “He actually came into our huddle. We were standing there, he came up to us. I’ll tell you exactly what was said. He said, ‘You guys are complaining way too much.’ And I said, ‘Well, let’s make the right calls.’ And his answer back was, ‘I’ll make a call for you.’ And that’s how I got the tech… I didn’t have any choice words for him. I didn’t say a word. I didn’t even swear then. You know what I said? ‘It’s about the game. It’s not about one individual.’ That’s all I said, over and over again.”
Obviously, these three guys won’t be the deciding factors tonight, but it will probably be in the C’s interest to be on their best behavior this evening.
Finally, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel Udonis Haslem will remain inactive for tonight’s game. However, center Erick Dampier, who has not dressed for the entire series, could see action to combat the return of Shaq to the middle for the C’s. A full report upcoming from the Garden in the pregame for the latest on Shaq’s and Dampier’s status.