Shaquille O’Neal  didn’t practice Thursday because his Achilles is inflamed, according to coach Doc Rivers . That makes Shaq questionable for Friday’s game against the Mavericks. “We may play him [Friday], we may not,” Rivers said. “We’ll see.”
When Shaq hasn’t been able to go Rivers has turned to rookie Semih Erden in order to keep Glen Davis  in his familiar sixth man role off the bench. But now that Kendrick Perkins  has five games under his belt, don’t be surprised if he gets the call.
“We will [make the switch] eventually,” Rivers said. “It’s not a big deal to us. I’m more concerned about who finishes the game.”
The coach has a point. Without Perkins the Celtics  have been using Davis at center in the fourth quarter. According to 82games.com , Rivers has used the lineup with the four starters and Davis as much as he has the starting five with Shaq. The Davis-at-center lineup has been productive, and it makes sense due to the minutes limitations on Shaq, as well as his well-documented foul difficulty this season.
But Perkins’ return gives the Celtics options and that’s never a bad thing.
Perkins said he was a little surprised by how quickly he’s been able to get back in the flow. He had 10 points and nine rebounds against the Blazers and eight and 10 against the Kings. He also logged about 93 minutes on the four-game west coast trip and lasted 27 minutes against the Lakers.
“I thought I’d be off by so much,” Perkins said after practice Thursday. “I thought I’d have to get into a rhythm or whatever it may be. I’m just going to keep putting in the hard work. I’m still not where I want to be, but I am happy where I’m at.”
Asked what he felt he needed to improve, Perkins said, “Just my timing. My jumping. That’s about it. Timing and jumping. I feel like I have to get off the floor a little bit better.”
It’s only a matter of time before he rejoins the starting five. The real question will be answered at the end of the games.