The Boston Celtics are in desperate need for a victory on Saturday when they face the Miami Heat in game three of their best of seven second round Playoff series. The Celtics currently trail Miami 2-0 in their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals match-up but they may have two factors weighing in their favor on Saturday. First they will be playing the next two games in their own arena and according to the “Boston Herald” they may also have the services of veteran center Shaquille O’Neal for the first time in this Post Season.
Boston went through practice on Thursday with four players who are banged up as Paul Pierce is suffering through pain in his left Achilles tendon, Ray Allen has a bruised chest and point guard Rajon Rondo has a sore back. Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters that he expects all four of them to be able to play in game three. Rivers said “The injury we were really concerned with was obviously Shaq’s, and the other one was Paul. (Boston center Jermaine O’Neal) has a stiff back, Rondo has a stiff back; a lot of guys are injured. (But) I am expecting Shaq. He told me he was going to play, and Eddie (trainer Lacerte) thought he would play. I expect him to play, and if he didn’t it would be because something went wrong in practice, or his body didn’t respond. But I expect him. We won’t let him do too much, but how much is too much? How the hell do I know? Walking to the floor could be too much. We’ll find that out.”
O’Neal is expected to play only limited minutes in his first game of the Playoffs. He played just one regular season game for Boston over the last few months of the regular campaign due to injury.