Celtics

Jermaine O'Neal has surgery, out eight weeks

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Jermaine O'Neal has surgery, out eight weeks

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON When it comes to the Boston Celtics big men, change hasn't been a good thing all season.

So when the news spread that Jermaine O'Neal's status with the team was changing, well, fearing the worst was understandable.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told reporters after Friday night's 101-97 loss to Dallas, said that O'Neal underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and would be out for 6-8 weeks.

"The first part of April is our hope (for O'Neal to return)," Ainge said.

After a battery of tests from local and national medical experts, the C's decided earlier that they would try and rest the knee and bring him back to the fold in about a month.

Ainge said the knee was not responding the way they wanted it to, which is when O'Neal reconsidered having surgery during the season.

The surgery that O'Neal will be having is the same surgery the C's had given some consideration to him having earlier this season.

"Jermaine had seen other doctors," Ainge said. "And it's not a - Jermaine couldn't be given 100 assurance that it was going to fix everything, so he was just trying to fix it just by resting and building up the glutes and quads that we talked about last time."

But it was becoming painfully clear to both the C's and O'Neal that the injury was not getting any better.

Because he has had knee issues in past, the Celtics had MRIs taken before signing him.

"They've worsened from the time of what we saw in the summer," said Ainge, referring to the MRIs taken then and now.

The concern was that the knee would have some swelling with rigorous physical activity.

But there was inflammation even without him working out.

"Even without activity, the swelling was there and that's when he decided to change the course of the game plan," Ainge said.

Rivers said he didn't find out until Thursday that O'Neal was going to have surgery soon.

"I thought it was the right decision," Rivers said. "I wish he had moved a little earlier on it, but I think JO had to make sure he wanted to do it. And he exhausted every avenue, which I thought he should've done because it's a tough decision."

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins can relate to what Jermaine O'Neal is contending with now.

A six-time all-star, O'Neal came to Boston knowing his role would be reduced just because of the shear number of superstar talent the C's have.

While disappointed that he won't be with them for the bulk of the regular season, O'Neal's teammates are encouraged by the idea that he'll return just in time for the playoffs.

"A guy like Jermaine is a great guy, great addition to the team," said Kendrick Perkins, who made his first start of the season against the Mavericks and finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds. "To know he's coming back in a month or so is great. "We could use him in the playoffs, everybody and every game."

If O'Neal is back in time for the playoffs, he will be hard-pressed to break through and get meaningful minutes.

While O'Neal is out, Kendrick Perkins will re-establish himself as the team's starting center. Shaquille O'Neal will continue to use his muscle to overpower people. And don't forget about rookie Semih Erden who has done a really solid job when called upon at the last minute.

Getting past those players will be difficult for O'Neal, if downright next to impossible.

Still, having another big man available for this final stretch run can only help the C's.

"You don't want him to go through surgery," Perkins said. "But it's great to hear he can return at the end of the season."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Stars, studs and duds: Bounce is real for Waiters, Heat

Stars, studs and duds: Bounce is real for Waiters, Heat

The bounce is real.

No, I’m not talking about Kelly Olynyk’s hops.

I’m talking about that late-game shot made by Dion Waiters that was among the many big plays made by the Miami Heat in handing Boston a 104-98 loss which snapped the Celtics’ 16-game winning streak.

After Marcus Smart split a pair of free throws that cut Miami’s lead to 91-90, Waiters pulled up for a 3-pointer that hit the top of the backboard, took a high bounce and dropped through the net to make it a 94-90 game with 2:56 to play.

Just 22 seconds later, Al Horford – an 83.8 percent free throw shooter – missed a pair of free throws that was soon followed by another 3-pointer from Waiters.

“They were terrific tonight,” Boston’s Brad Stevens told NBC Sports Boston’s Kyle Draper following the game. “Miami played with incredible pace, with their ability to drive the ball, I thought they put us on our heels most of the night. No question, they deserved to win the game. Maybe that’s why they got the big bounce (on Waiters’ 3-pointer with 2:56 to play) and that kind of separated it as we were coming back.”

Said Al Horford: “Our group, we kept fighting, we kept pushing each other. We have to give the Heat credit. They did what they needed to do, they stuck it out and they beat us.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 104-98 loss to the Miami Heat which snapped Boston’s 16-game winning streak as well as ended Boston’s eight-game winning streak over the Heat.

 

STARS

Dion Waiters

On the heels of his worst game as a pro (he was 0-for-10 in loss to Indiana on Sunday), Waiters was the difference-maker above all others on Wednesday. He finished with 26 points which included a team-best eight points in the fourth quarter.

Jayson Tatum

He didn’t lead the Celtics in scoring, but he was very impressive with his play in the second half to bring Boston within striking distance in the fourth quarter. He had 18 points and seven rebounds along with four assists.

 

STUDS

Goran Dragic

While Waiters closed out the win for Miami with a strong fourth quarter, Dragic put the Heat in position for the win with a strong game most of the night. He would finish with a game-high 27 points. He also had five rebounds and four assists.

Kyrie Irving

Irving came up with a slew of late-game baskets to keep hope alive that the Celtics could once again rally from a double-digit deficit and win. Even though he and the Celtics came up short, Irving still tallied a team-high 23 points and did so on an efficient 11-for-22 shooting night.

 

DUDS

Al Horford

It was a rough night shooting the ball for Horford who had X points on 3-for-10 shooting. He wasn’t any better from the free throw line while missing both of his free throw attempts in the fourth.

Celtics bench

There were signs of improvement with Marcus Morris (14 points) playing with the second unit, but this unit continues to struggle when it comes to making shots. For the game, Boston’s backups shot 9-for-28 (32.1 percent).

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Mistakes burn Celtics in 104-98 loss to Heat, ending win streak

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Mistakes burn Celtics in 104-98 loss to Heat, ending win streak

For the past few games, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens hinted about his team showing signs of slippage in his team’s play and overall execution.

“We need to get back, better attention to detail, from the last couple of games we had,” Stevens told reporters prior to the game. “Our techniques haven’t been great the last couple games.”

It finally caught up to them, as the Celtics could not muster up the usual defensive stops and clutch shot-making that catapulted them to one of the greatest runs in franchise history that came to an end Wednesday night as the Heat ended Boston’s 16-game winning streak by handing the Celtics a 104-98 loss.

The Miami backcourt of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters scored 27 and 26 points, respectively. Meanwhile, the Celtics were led by Kyrie Irving’s 23 points and Jayson Tatum who had 18 points and seven rebounds.

The Celtics (16-3) suffered their first loss since the second game of the season against Milwaukee (108-100), and their first road defeat since a 102-99 season-opening loss at Cleveland.

Trailing by 16 points at the start of the fourth quarter, Boston made it a single-digit game (91-84) following a 3-pointer by Tatum.

But when it mattered most, Boston made way too many mistakes and didn’t capitalize on the opportunities to put serious pressure on the Heat.

  • Trailing 91-89, Marcus Smart split a pair of free throws.
  • Trailing 94-90, Al Horford – an 83.8 percent free throw shooter coming into tonight’s game – missed a pair of free throws.
  • Down 97-92, Jaylen Brown throws a full-court errant pass that sails out of bounds.
  • Celtics down 99-94 with less than a minute to play force a missed shot, but fail to get the rebound as it sails out of bounds off Terry Rozier.

It was that kind of game for the Celtics, whose 16-game winning streak is a thing of the past that was the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

Boston once again found itself playing from behind in the first half, with the Heat pulling ahead by as many as 18 points. However, an 11-6 run to end the second quarter by Boston trimmed Miami’s lead at the half down to 54-41 at the half.

The third quarter has usually been the start of Boston’s comeback.

But to the Heat’s credit, Miami was able to maintain their double-digit lead until a 3-pointer by Al Horford made it a 58-50 game with just over eight minutes to play.

But the Heat responded with four straight points which put Miami up 62-50, leading to a Brad Stevens time-out with 7:28 to play in the third.

The Celtics continued to try and battle back, but the Heat refused to budge on its double-digit lead which stood at 16 points (79-63) going into the fourth quarter.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE