WALTHAM — Celtics  coach Doc Rivers  is hoping Shaquille O’Neal  returns to practice on Saturday after watching from the sidelines on Friday as the team began full-scale practice preparations for the Knicks Sunday night in Game 1 of their first-round series.
‘He was doing good. He sat pretty well today, looked good over there,” Rivers said tongue-in-cheek. “It was terrific. He watched the entire practice.”
Rivers said the team is managing O’Neal’s calf injury as carefully as possible before letting him get back on the court.
“We knew that, we planned that,” Rivers added. “[Saturday] we’ll see what he can do. He did some of the walk-through stuff but I just don’t want to take a chance. We’ll find out [Saturday]. ‘He’ll practice hopefully and then we’ll make a decision after that.’
‘Delonte’s fine, everybody else is fine,” Rivers said. “We’re 100 percent except for Shaq. Everybody else is pretty good and that’s good.’ ‘We watched film for about an hour and a half [Thursday]. Then we walked through for another half-hour, 45 minutes but we didn’t do anything live.”
Friday was critical to Rivers because of the work accomplished in practice. Saturday figures to be even more significant.
“Today was a hard, long live practice. Everybody’s rested, every team is rested. There’s no excuses. It’s all gone. ‘It was a good that they could get their mind set on one opponent and walk through the game plan. Today we got to do a lot of live stuff. [Saturday] we’re going to do even more live stuff.
‘With this new group, we’ve never [practiced that hard]. The worst part of the trade was the timing of the trade and the schedule, it just didn’t mesh for us. We never had days off, we never had practice time and then we had the injuries. At least now, I’m cutting out literally half of our offensive playbook. I’ve made a choice to run a couple of things well than a lot of things average and poor and so that’s the route we’re going.’