Celtics

Shaq will play tonight vs. Detroit

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Shaq will play tonight vs. Detroit

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Shaquille O'Neal made his way into the TD Garden this afternoon, looking fit as ever.

Fit enough to play?

We'll find out soon enough with O'Neal ready to make his return to the Celtics lineup tonight against the Detroit Pistons.

Earlier today, Celtics coach Doc Rivers told CSNNE.com that O'Neal would "probably" play, but added that he would only play limited minutes.

"If he does, it will only be for five, maybe 10 minutes," Rivers said at the time.

Moments ago, Rivers confirmed that O'Neal would play and that he would not only limit his minutes, but also limit the number of games he plays in between now and the playoffs.

"I'm telling you now, I'm not going to play him every night," Rivers told a group of reporters. "I'm going to play him three or four games, and that'll be it. We'll get ready for the playoffs."

O'Neal, out with what's being described as a right leg injury, would provide some much-needed depth for the C's at the center position.

The Celtics recently got Jermaine O'Neal back following surgery ln his left knee. But on the same night of his return, the C's lost Nenad Krstic to a right knee injury.

The Celtics were concerned that Krstic suffered torn ligaments in the knee. But an MRI revealed that he had a bone bruise and his status is now day-to-day.

Although Krstic's exact return remains up in the air, Rivers said there's a chance that Krstic is back in the lineup Tuesday against Philadelphia.

As for O'Neal, his return can not come soon enough for the Celtics.

One of the reasons the C's traded away Kendrick Perkins in February was because they felt that S. O'Neal would give them the inside presence they needed to finish out this season strong, and adequately prepare them for the playoffs.

However, his injuries - he has had right foot, calf and Achilles Tendon issues - have taken longer to heal than initially thought.

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

The solution for Celtics? Play better down the stretch

The solution for Celtics? Play better down the stretch

BOSTON – If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Brad Stevens in his time as Celtics coach, it’s that he’s not about that sugarcoating life.
 
When it comes to his team, he’s about as transparent a coach as you will find in the NBA.

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So, when he says his team has been outplayed in both of its first two games, he’s not doing it as some stealth rallying cry.
 
He’s doing it because it’s where they are at this moment.
 
“So, whatever that’s attributable to, we’ve got to fix it, we’ve got to be better at it, regardless of when it is,” Stevens said.
 
Boston will get another crack at it on Friday night against a Philadelphia squad that, like the Celtics, is also searching for its first win of the season.
 
Struggling to win games is something the Sixers have grown accustomed to in recent years.
 
But the Celtics have been on an upward trajectory every year under Stevens’ watch. And while it’s far too soon to panic over their start, players understand that change must come about soon if they are to get on the right track and have the kind of season they envision for themselves as a group.
 
“Brad’s right, we have a lot of plays to clean up and a lot of stuff to get better at, but that’s’ the beauty of it,” said Jaylen Brown. “We got a really good group and a lot of young guys – we’re going to move forward and take that challenge. We’re going to win some games; we’re going to win a lot of games here in Boston.”
 
But doing so won’t be easy, not with the Celtics still trying to find the best way to move forward following Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury that may keep him out for the remainder of this season.
 
The Celtics have led in the fourth quarter of both losses before eventually failing to make the necessary plays down the stretch to ensure victory.
 
Some of that has to do with the unfamiliarity - not a surprise when you add 10 new players to the mix in one offseason. Another contributing factor is, because of injuries, there are players elevated to more prominent roles who were otherwise seen as simply depth additions at the end of the bench.
 
Whatever the reasons may be, the bottom line is clear: the Celtics have played two games where they were outplayed enough to lose. 
 
“I don’t want to make the excuse that we’re a young team, but we are,” said Kyrie Irving. “We have some experience here and we have to utilize that and continue to exude confidence in young guys and ourselves and understand the game comes in waves. There are going to be ups and downs. We have to be able to withstand other team’s runs as well as hit back and have that hit-first mentality in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter and fourth quarter. Once we start understanding we have to put a complete game together, myself being at the head of the ball and being better with it and putting guys in the right spots, we’ll be fine.”

Agent says Gordon Hayward is unlikely to return this season

Agent says Gordon Hayward is unlikely to return this season

Hopes that the Celtics would have Gordon Hayward back in the lineup later this year were dashed last night by Hayward's agent, Mark Bartelstein.

Hayward underwent surgery Wednesday night for a fractured and dislocated left tibia, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens had said earlier in the day that Hayward's prognosis would be better known after doctors saw the extent of the damage. When the operation was over, Bartelstein told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski not to expect Hayward to play again this season.

But there is good news:

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“We’re expecting this to be a full recovery,” Stevens had said earlier. “No timeline on it, but a full recovery.”

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