The Celtics met Friday morning in Waltham for their final practice before departing this weekend for Game 1 in Miami. Naturally, that meant the final update on Shaquille O'Neal before Sunday's series opener.
Here's the latest on Shaq: he is back practicing with the team, he's doing much better than he was a week ago, but there's still no definite answer on when he'll come back.
"He just did a little bit yesterday, maybe some more today," coach Doc Rivers said before Friday's practice. "Really, that's the only update I have. There's no decision made or anything. I'm more confident now that he'll play in this series, but I don't know when. Maybe Game 1, maybe Game 2. But I do think he'll play."
Two weeks ago, before the beginning of the Knicks series, Shaq met with team physician Brian McKeon and trainer Ed Lacerte to test his injured right calf. They had him run up and down the floor, and, after a few minutes, he couldn't handle the pain.
This time around, Rivers says, they haven't yet put him through many tests. But, assuming Shaq does practice Friday, the real test for him will be seeing how he feels Saturday, the day after.
As for Shaq's role on the Celtics in the second round, it now appears that Jermaine O'Neal will retain his starting job, relegating Shaq to the second unit once he returns.
"Minutes, I have no idea," Rivers said of Shaq. "But he'd come off the bench, obviously. Just come in and be Shaq. He's important. He gives us another guy with size and some more physicality."