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Danny Ainge on Big Show: Shaq can’t give us 12 minutes right now

Shaquille O’Neal [1] will try to practice on Friday and the Celtics [2] haven’t given up hope that he will be able to come back from his Achilles injury before the playoffs are over, but they also don’t want to put him in a position to play him before he’s ready.

“Right now he could not give us 12 minutes,” Celtics president Danny Ainge said on The Big Show Thursday afternoon. “We want Shaq healthy. If Shaq could give us 12 minutes in the first game without jeopardizing the following game he would probably be out there doing that but he’s not ready to do that yet.”

Ainge said the team was hopeful and that O’Neal was making progress, but they just don’t when he’ll be able to return.

“I wish I had an answer to that one,” Ainge said. “He looks better today. There’s progress. We’re still hopeful that he’ll be ready to play but it’s just taking longer to heal, or taking a while to heal and Shaq was determined to play Game 1 of the first playoff series and it’s just not been that way. He could probably go out and some thing but I’m not sure he could help much.”

Here are some other highlights from the conversation:

On the play of the second unit: “We don’t rely on our bench like some teams. Our bench played really well in Game 4. I thought in Game 3 our bench got frustrated maybe because they were answering a lot of questions, maybe the pressure was mounting and they didn’t get the opportunities in their mind to play through the adversity they were facing because we have four Hall of Fame guys sitting over there that Doc [Rivers [3]] can call on when things get bad. In Game 4 it was huge, the rest [Rajon] Rondo [4] got in the second quarter was enormous. Delonte [West [5]] was really playing well. Jeff Green [6] was playing well so Paul [Pierce [7]] was able to get the rest he needed and it showed up in the second half.”

On the Heat and the Celtics early season success against them: “They’ve been playing together a little bit longer but I still think they’re just a really scary team. When we beat them early in the year I don’t think Dwyane Wade [8] was 100 percent healthy. He’s sure playing at a high level right now. I think we’re better. I think we’re playing at a high level the last couple of games. I think both teams have great respect for the other team. Both teams know that they’re going to have to play their best basketball to win and there’s nothing that’s going to be given to anyone in this series.”

On Mike Bibby [9] and what he brings to Miami: “Bibby is a great shooter. He’s not a good shooter, he’s a great shooter, so he does keep the floor spread. Rajon will have to keep close contact with him. That’s why they’re a difficult team to guard. First you have to stop them in transition. You have to prevent LeBron [James [10]] and Wade from getting to the rim in the halfcourt and in transition and then you have to stop their 3-point shooting with [James] Jones [11] and [Eddie] House [12] and Bibby. And then you have to keep them off the glass. That combination is scary and is difficult to defend.”

On the Celtics experience: “I think our team believes that we have to just play well to win. What you’ve done in the past doesn’t have a great deal of value if you’re still not doing it. I think our team is resilient. Our team has a great deal of resolve in these situations, but Miami is young and they’re athletic.”

On the play of Jermaine O’Neal [13]: “If our perimeter guys do a good enough job and not put too much stress on him and make have guard the rim all time … but Jermaine has done a great job. He did a great job in the last series in all four games. In all of his minutes he was huge for us defensively. We really need Jermaine to continue to play that kind of defense.”