Celtics president Danny Ainge was a guest on The Big Show to break down the playoff series with Miami that starts on Sunday. As always, though, the first question was about Shaquille O'Neal and whether the center can return to the court.
"I wish I had an answer to that one," Ainge said. "He looks better today. There's progress. We're still hopeful that he'll be ready to play, but it's just taking longer to heal, or taking a while to heal. Shaq was determined to play Game 1 of the first playoff series and it's just not been that way. He could probably go out and something but I'm not sure he could help much."
Asked if Shaq could play 12 minutes at this point, Ainge said, "Right now he could not give us 12 minutes. We want Shaq healthy. If Shaq could give us 12 minutes in the first game without jeopardizing the following game, he would probably be out there doing that, but he's not ready to do that yet."
Here are some other highlights from the conversation:
On the play of the second unit: "We don't rely on our bench like some teams. Our bench played really well in Game 4. I thought in Game 3 our bench got frustrated maybe because they were answering a lot of questions, maybe the pressure was mounting and they didn't get the opportunities in their mind to play through the adversity they were facing because we have four Hall of Fame guys sitting over there that Doc can call on when things get bad. In Game 4 it was huge, the rest Rondo got in the second quarter was enormous. Delonte [West] was really playing well. Jeff Green was playing well, so Paul [Pierce] was able to get the rest he needed and it showed up in the second half."
On the Heat, and the Celtics' early season success against them: "They've been playing together a little bit longer, but I still think they're just a really scary team. When we beat them early in the year I don't think Dwyane Wade was 100 percent healthy. He's sure playing at a high level right now. I think we're better. I think we're playing at a high level the last couple of games. I think both teams have great respect for the other team. Both teams know that they're going to have to play their best basketball to win and there's nothing that's going to be given to anyone in this series."
On the play of Jermaine O'Neal: "If our perimeter guys do a good enough job and not put too much stress on him and make have guard the rim all time ... but Jermaine has done a great job. He did a great job in the last series in all four games. In all of his minutes he was huge for us defensively. We really need Jermaine to continue to play that kind of defense."
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