Using a flare for the dramatic, Doc Rivers  explained why Jermaine O’Neal  didn’t play in the second half of Friday’s 20-point blowout win over Toronto. Rivers pointed to Boston’s 67-45 halftime lead and O’Neal’s stiff left knee as reasons O’Neal played just nine minutes, allowing Luke Harangody to have his rookie breakout game. Rivers said the hope is that he’ll be ready for the Bulls in Chicago on Saturday night.
‘His knee was sore, so I knew in the second half I wasn’t going to go with him,” Rivers said of O’Neal’s chronic left knee. “And we had a lead, so we just looked at it and if we could get him through this game and maybe play him [Saturday] it would be great.
“It was a little sore before the game, but it got ‘ at halftime he came to me and said, ‘Man, my knee’s sore.’ So I think his knee’s sore for the rest of his life. But there’s going to be different degrees of pain.’
O’Neal, who has backed up Shaquille O’Neal  off the bench, played in seven of the first eight games of the season before missing 19 straight with the bad left knee. Friday marked his eighth game back but Rivers said he will likely have to keep a close eye on his minutes going forward.
O’Neal is averaging 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 15 games for the Celtics  this season.