As always with the Celtics , injuries and their effects will be a constant theme this season. It’s fitting then that only a week into camp, the team is already dealing with a couple of minor ailments.
Jermaine O’Neal  injured his left hamstring at the end of Friday’s practice and will likely be held out for the rest of the week. Delonte West  left practice Monday after suffering back spasms. Doc Rivers  is a little more optimistic on West, saying that West could be day to day. One thing is certain: the Celtics are playing it safe.
“We cannot take a chance with that,” Rivers said.
The injuries, however minor, do allow for Rivers to begin tinkering with lineups. When practice opened to the media, Shaquille O’Neal  was with the first team and Von Wafer  and Semih Erden were working with the second unit.
“When you look at Shaq and Jermaine and think that they’re going to play 82 games healthy, that would be nice, but we have to be ready for them to miss a couple of games,” Rivers said. “That’s why like Luke [Harangody] and Semih are so important. They’re going to have to play.”
Jermaine O’Neal’s hamstring injury, which he does not believe is serious, comes at a difficult time because he was just getting comfortable with the new system.
“I’m not really concerned about it,” O’Neal said. “It’s the timing, being here with the guys getting that chemistry. I was just starting to get comfortable with the philosophies, what Doc wanted. That’s the most frustrating part about it. But I don’t have any doubt in my mind that I’ll be back fairly soon. There’s no substitution for it. You can study and look all you want. I felt like Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I was really starting to get comfortable and everything was starting to slow down.”
Rivers termed O’Neal’s play “up and down,” through the first part of camp, which is understandable since he’s just beginning to process all the changes. “When you’re playing with a new team, you’re not playing, you’re thinking,” Rivers said. “But other than that I love what he was doing. He’s starting to make shots from the outside.”
The Celtics open their exhibition schedule Wednesday in Manchester, New Hampshire against the Sixers. O’Neal is almost certainly out for that game, while West is day to day.
SECOND UNIT SHINES
Paul Pierce  still can’t get over coming to work and seeing Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal in his locker room. “I just know these are guys you can depend on,” Pierce said.
Shaq and Delonte West, as well as players like Glen Davis , Marquis Daniels  and Nate Robinson , have given the second unit a distinct personality. “They really got a good chemistry going,” Pierce said. “I really love our second team. There’s something about them. I haven’t seen a second team like this since I got into the league.”
In addition to playing their roles in games and offering depth, the second unit’s other job is to make things as difficult as possible for the starters during practice.
“It’s very, very difficult in this practice to even work on something that you worked on in the summer time because guys are so keyed in on the defensive end of the floor,” Jermaine O’Neal said. “The unselfishness on this team is something I haven’t seen in this league since my Portland days.”
QUOTES OF NOTE
Paul Pierce on Marquis Daniels: “What a lot of people don’t know is he has a great IQ on defense. A lot of people talk about the guys who are great defenders, how hard they play. Marquis is always in the right spots, he’s always into his man. He has good lift on challenging shots. He has all the tools for a great defender. It’s all about the will and he’s showing that will this year.”
Doc Rivers on the team’s antics: “I could really care less. They’re serious in practice after that they’re grown men, I don’t care how they act. They want to have fun or embarrass themselves, I really don’t care. The only rule I have is called the respect rule. If anything is getting to where it’s disrespecting someone to where it’s a problem, then it’s a problem.”
Jermaine O’Neal: “It’s very unique especially because we have guys who were the guy on their team for so many years. It’s unique that guys are willing to step back and take a lesser role.”