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Shaquille O'Neal and Rajon Rondo Injuries Take Luster Off Of Primetime Hawks-Celtics Matchup

There won't be a Shaq attack. The injury to Rajon Rondo's sprained left ankle may be enough to keep him out of his second Atlanta Hawks-Boston Celtics game. And of course the Hawks will play this one without All-Star Joe Johnson.

What should have been a matchup between two of the beasts of the East may come down to a battle of attrition when Atlanta and Boston face off on TNT.

Rondo sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter of the Celtics' 118-116 win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday. Although the Boston point guard hopes to play on Thursday, he may be destined to spend part of the day in an MRI machine. However, if last game is any indication, Boston won't miss Rondo all that much. Rondo was out the last time the two teams met on Nov. 22 in Atlanta. Nate Robinson came off the bench and posted 16 points and 10 assists in a 99-76 blowout that was nowhere near as close as the final score.

One player who did play in that one was center Shaquille O'Neal, who had 13 points and 11 boards in 21 minutes. He should miss his fourth game with a right calf injury.

The Hawks are also without Johnson, who had elbow surgery a few weeks ago. While he has begun shooting the basketball in practice, he is nowhere close to being ready to return to the court.

While Atlanta and Boston may play this one without as much star power, it still counts the same. The Hawks desperately need a win to reestablish themselves in the conversation as one of the best teams in the league.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.