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BOSTON (CBS) – The big question for the Celtics for the last four months has been, “Will Shaquille O’Neal ever take the floor again?”
The answer has been inconsistent on all fronts, but many remain optimistic.
“Yeah, you’ll see him in suits, at some community service events,” CSNNE’s A. Sherrod Blakley joked on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich Tuesday morning. “On the basketball court, that’s hard to say. My gut says Shaquille O’Neal is going to return at some point in the playoffs for the Celtics.”
Shaq has already been ruled out for Game two of the Celtics-Knicks playoff series on Tuesday night. The Celtics will not put a date on his return, but Blakley does not think Boston needs the “Big Shamrock,” at least not against the Knicks.
“I don’t think they need him in this Knicks series,” he said. “I think they’ll need him much more against the Heat, and if they move forward much more against Chicago.”
O’Neal has been out since April 3rd after injuring his calf in a brief six minute return from an Achilles injury. On Monday, coach Doc Rivers said Shaq was in a new brace but was not sure if he would practice at all in the two days off between Games two and three.
The Celtics took a 1-0 series lead with an 87-85 win Sunday night thanks to a Ray Allen jumper with 11 seconds left. Boston got down early but managed to come back from a 10-point halftime deficit.
Much like their four regular season matchups, Blakley sees each game going down to the wire, with the Celtics ultimately winning the best-of-seven.
“I think every game these two play is going to be close,” he said. “The Knicks have the ability to ratchet up their game for 4-5-6 minute stretches and look like world beaters. The Celtics have the ability of looking like the Minnesota Timberwolves for 5-6 minutes every single night where they’re just absolutely horrible. When you put those two together over 48 minutes, you’re going to have an up and down type game where it stays relatively close.”
“I still think the Celtics will win this thing in no more than six games, probably, it take will them five,” Blakley added. “But I think each game will stay relatively close. It’s been that way all season between these two teams.”
Blakley also touched on the struggling Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who shot just one-for-eight in Game one.
“I think he’s a little too excited and amped up for the playoffs,” he said of Davis. “He has to realize he is a role player. The reason he’s done so well in the playoffs is he has had a specific role and he’s played to that role and he hasn’t deviated from that.
“It’s the playoffs. You have to do what you do best,” he continued. “For him it’s getting out there setting great screens, which he does not do nearly as much as much as he used to, getting some rebounds which, again, is not something he is doing as much as he used to, and scoring when the opportunity presents itself. He has to get out of the mindset he has to score to make an impact. As we saw during the regular season, the best thing that he did for the Celtics more often than not didn’t have to do with scoring points. It was drawing a charge, getting to a loose ball. It was the little things.”
The Celtics and Knicks square off in Game two of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series at the TD Garden Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m.