Celtics

West, Murphy, O'Neals still dealing with injuries

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West, Murphy, O'Neals still dealing with injuries

By: Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM With all the commotion over the Celtics mental, chemistry and apathy issues, some of the teams physical and medical problems have taken a back at seat.

At least for now. But they obviously still do still exist, and in the midst of trying to figure out whats wrong with the players who are on the court, Doc Rivers took a moment before practice to touch on the players who arent.

First and foremost, of course, the ONeals.

Jermaine ONeal is currently working out in Chicago, and is still on target to rejoin the team before the end of the regular season, and while Shaquille ONeal is a little closer to returning, Rivers says you still shouldnt expect Shaq to play on the teams upcoming four-game road trip.

Not on this trip, Rivers said. Ive actually heard that theres a chance, but I dont expect it. I just think thats too optimistic. Just being around the game long enough to know that when you take a boot off, you normally dont play a day later. I just dont think thats realistic. I think theres a better chance of next Sunday, but I think more the game after that is our target date for Shaq.

Troy Murphy, who sprained his right ankle during Thursdays practice and missed Fridays game with his foot in a walking boot, has broken free from the boot, and was in uniform before practice. But like with the ONeals, Rivers says not to hold your breathe on Murphy.

I dont think hes good to go, he said, but hes taken the boot off. I dont even think hes going on the trip.

Lastly, theres Delonte West, who missed practice for personal reasons, and who, despite playing the last six games, is still dealing with the lingering effects of a late-February ankle injury.

"I've had a sprained ankle before; it normally takes two, three days and you're back in action," West said after Fridays loss. "But they're saying I got a chipped bone in there and I think I kind of over-did it a little bit in practice (on Thursday)."

Still, Rivers isnt overly concerned.

Delontes good, he said. It just becomes a pain thing. There will be games when he feels great, there will be a game here or there when he can play, but therell be more pain. Last night he actually twisted it a little.

I think hell be all right, unless he steps on a foot, which he cant avoid. Delonte will be OK. There will be a game or two where hell react to pain, but if Im betting on a guy for toughness, and playing through pain, I got a pretty good feeling it wont be a factor with Delonte. So thats not a concern, but obviously Shaq, JO, that a concern.

Rich Levine can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE