It was a rocky preseason for Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal, who missed four of Boston's eight exhibition games this October with various ailments, missing a golden opportunity to develop chemistry with the starting five.
His most recent injury was in his wrist, where he tore a little bit of cartilage in a collision last Friday in Toronto. O'Neal hasn't played since, and he's been fairly limited in practice — but after a solid workout with the Celtics on Friday, the center says he's feeling much better.
"I'm doing good," O'Neal said Friday. "I'm doing good. I just wanted to give the wrist a little bit of a break and then get right back it. I felt pretty good today. I've got a little wrap on it now that keeps it stable, but I'm not worried about it."
While O'Neal is confident that he'll be ready for Tuesday night's regular-season opener against his old team, the Miami Heat, his coach expressed slightly more caution.
"Today was good, but we've got four more," Doc Rivers said of Friday afternoon's practice. "I'll know more on Tuesday."
O'Neal played four games for the Celtics this preseason, starting three of them. The Celtics' other All-Star center, Shaquille O'Neal, started the other five. Both are confident they'll be healthy and ready for Tuesday night, but Rivers continues to work with both centers on getting them game-ready.
"Jermaine went through the whole practice today, so that was good," the coach said Friday. "But him and Shaq, they've just got a lot of work to do, as far as getting all our stuff down. They're not going to get it overnight."