Tuesday , Apr , 05 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

What does Shaq’s latest injury mean for struggling Celtics?

O’Neal missed 27 games with foot and Achilles’ tendon injuries and was making his first appearance since Feb. 1. "The update is that it’s not the same injury," Rivers said. "Had nothing to do with the Achilles; it’s a calf strain. It’s not a bad strain, but it’s a strain. So similar to the one Von [Wafer] had but not even close to the severity. Well, ‘I don’t know [when he will be back]‘ is the answer."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Just when you thought ‘The Big Shamrock’ was back, he’s out –again.

Shaquille O’Neal finally returned to the Boston Celtics’ line-up yesterday after missing 27 games with an Achilles injury. His good health appears short-lived, though.

O’Neal left in the second quarter of last night’s game with a calf injury. He did not return.

While the injury isn’t serious, the fact O’Neal has missed months of action is. The future Hall of Fame center has never been known for fitness, and this is magnified by his age.

Here’s the question: what can O’Neal provide the green-and-white in the playoffs?

Well, nobody knows. But O’Neal must perform because the Celtics’ other fives like Jermaine O’Neal and Nenad Krstic are hurt. And there’s no Kendrick Perkins, who was sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder for combo forward Jeff Green at the trade deadline.

Shaq’, when he returns, needs to anchor the middle, allowing Kevin Garnett to play the majority of his minutes at power forward. It wouldn’t hurt if he provided a target for point guard Rajon Rondo, too.

Bottom line: the sliding Celtics need O’Neal. A return to the NBA Finals is unlikely without him holding his own down low. 

–Oly Sandor.

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