WALTHAM, Mass. — Shaquille O'Neal is injured once again, but this time the Celtics are optimistic. They don't see the big fella missing another two months with his latest leg injury.
"It's just a calf strain — not that bad, not that severe," coach Doc Rivers said at practice Monday. "He will probably not play the rest of this week … well, table that, he may play at the end of the week. We're just not sure yet."
Rivers said prior to Sunday evening's game against the Pistons that he wanted to play Shaq three or four times over the team's final seven games. That schedule has been altered now, obviously, but Rivers is still hoping to give the big man a little fine-tuning for the playoffs. He's been working closely with the Celtics' training staff to map out a plan.
"We're going to do whatever they tell us is required," Rivers said. "Other than that, I would love to play him a couple of games, honestly."
In the meantime, the Celtics are likely to stick with Jermaine O'Neal as their starting center, with Glen Davis coming off the bench and playing big minutes. That's enough to keep the C's front line afloat, but the team would definitely feel the impact of a successful Shaq return.
"I blinked and he was gone," Ray Allen said of Shaq. "But then I looked at the stats, and he had six points just like that. So his effectiveness was definitely felt out there. I'm glad to see that he's not doing too poorly [with his new injury]. Hopefully he'll respond well to this."
In other Celtics injury news, both Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy made it through an entire practice on Monday afternoon. Both big men will try to suit up for Tuesday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers.