The official status of Shaquille O’Neal and his injured right calf is “day to day,” but Tuesday will certainly not be that day. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said at Monday’s practice that he’s ruled out the possibility of Shaq playing Tuesday in Game 2 against the Knicks.
“He’s not going to do anything,” Rivers said. “He’s not going to play tomorrow.”
On Saturday morning, prior to the Celtics’ final practice before Game 1, O’Neal met with Celtics team physician Brian McKeon to test the leg, seeing if he could run up and down the floor. On Monday, however, they didn’t even test Shaq in the slightest.
“Dr. McKeon came to me about an hour ago and said we’re not even going to put him on the floor,” Rivers said. “We’re not even going to try it.”
After hosting the Knicks in Tuesday’s Game 2, the Celtics have two days of practice before traveling to the Big Apple for Game 3 on Friday night. Because of the downtime in between games, the Celtics are optimistic about nursing Shaq back to game shape.
Rivers definitely isn’t ready to say Shaq is out for the Knicks series.
“I’m not going on that assumption,” the coach said. “I’m going on the assumption that he’s not playing in Game 2. We’ve got two days after this that he can practice, hopefully, or if not practice, then at least do something on the floor with us. Then we can make an evaluation.”
In Shaq’s absence, the Celtics have gotten an admirable performance in the starting role from Jermaine O’Neal. J.O. chipped in to the Celtics’ Game 1 win with 12 points (on 6-of-6 shooting), four rebounds and four blocks in only 23 minutes.
It’s comforting that the Celtics have a contingency plan with Shaq out, but Rivers insists that J.O.’s performance has no impact on Shaq’s timetable. When Shaq’s ready, he’ll play.
“It helps because he’s playing well,” Rivers said of Jermaine O’Neal. “But now’s the time that if you can play, you’re going to play. Shaq can’t play.
“Obviously Jermaine playing well helps our team, but as far as buying time? If you can play now, you’re going to be on the floor.”