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Semih Erden is ready for his closeup

11.01.10 at 4:36 pm ET
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Semih Erden

Semih Erden

WALTHAM — Semih Erden was working in the post against Jermaine O’Neal during practice Monday. Erden started to his left, faked like he was going right and then finished back on the left side. It’s the kind of move he’s been pulling off with regularity since he joined the Celtics, but not the only one.

“He gave me a move in that open scrimmage the other day,” Shaquille O’Neal said. “Real nice move. That just tells me he has the potential to go at me whenever he wants to. With him, he’s going to have to get a rhythm out there with the guys. He’s young and he’s going to get his shot.”

Erden’s shot may be getting closer to becoming a reality because, as expected, the Celtics are about to go into a stretch of games without at least one of the O’Neals.

Shaq made the trip to Detroit and hasn’t been officially ruled out of Tuesday’s game, but after he missed practice for the second straight day with a shin injury, it’s not likely that he’ll play.

Jermaine O’Neal, on the other hand, looks like he will be able to go against the Pistons. That helps, but the Celtics need at least two big men against the Pistons large frontline and that means Erden will finally get a chance to show what he can do in a game situation.

“Yeah I’m ready,” Erden said responding to a question in English without the help of his translator. “I feel good. Every day I learn something. It’s good for me. I’m lucky.”

That tiny interaction is a major step forward for Erden who has the added pressure of not only being a rookie, but a rookie from Turkey who is being asked to assimilate the NBA game as well as a new language.

“He knows how to play,” Doc Rivers said. “He’s just trying to learn how to play our way. The language barrier is a problem, there’s no doubt about that. You just got to keep working on him. He’s going to be a good big in this league and he’s going to be a good big for a long time. What we don’t know is whether he’s a good enough big right now.”

Erden has impressed the Celtics with his ability as well as his dedication to learning the craft. What stands out the most for them are his offensive skills and his touch around the basket.

“He has a bright future because he has great footwork and a post game and he can shoot the ball,” Jermaine O’Neal said. “I think he’s going to be a really good player.”

He has also impressed the Celtics with his willingness to mix it up in practice.

“He plays against Shaq every day he has no choice but to get better,” Kevin Garnett said. “Semih is very skillful. He has a very, very high IQ when it comes to basketball. He plays really really hard. We love him here. He fits right in.”

Garnett added, “He’s not afraid. He’s not going to back down from everyone.”

Read More: Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Semih Erden, Shaquille O'Neal
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