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With elimination staring the Celtics square in the face the championship aspirations may be over for the Big Three, but another era may already be over before Game 5 even tips off. Celtics center and future Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal may have played his last NBA game.
After appearing playing only 3:31 minutes in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Shaq is listed as doubtful to play at all in Game 5. His limited minutes in Game 4 were due the achilles apparently flaring back up a bit.
Coach Doc Rivers said that Shaq was feeling worse after playing and it is doubtful that he’ll be suiting up down in Miami.
“It’s nothing he can do. It’s not like he’s not trying,” said Rivers. “He’s done everything you possibly can do to get healthy. Unfortunately for him, he just hasn’t been able to do it.
“The Big Shamrock,” played in only 37 regular season games for the Celtics this year and played only 12 total minutes in the C’s eight playoff games.
The bigger picture here isn’t that the Celtics won’t have the big man for tonight’s game and beyond, but it could mean the end of his career. Shaq turned 39 in March and has played 18 long NBA seasons.
The 15-time All-Star and 4-time NBA champion has had injury trouble the last few seasons as his career began winding down.
O’Neal has a player option for next season, but these nagging injuries could leave that up in the air. What does Doc think about Shaq returning for one more year?
“I think it’s too early to talk about it,” said Rivers. “I just know this has been emotionally draining to him, more than you guys would know. He feels awful about this because this is why he came here, to get to the playoffs.”
In his 18 seasons “The Diesel,” has earned the right to be called one of the greatest centers of all time. He’s been named NBA MVP once, NBA Finals MVP three times and All-Star Game MVP three times. He also averages a career double-double with 23.7 points and 10.9 rebounds a game.