OAKLAND — Jermaine O'Neal knows this could be it, but he didn't want it to end like this.
The Golden State Warriors big man, who may retire after this season, went down in a heap early in the second quarter of his team's 100-99 Game 6 victory Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers, with even-bigger man Glen Davis curiously barreling him over after O'Neal grabbed a rebound and spraining his right knee. O'Neal was helped off the court, unable to put any weight on the knee.
GAME 6: Curry hits stride for W's
PLAYOFFS: First-round schedule
After sitting out the rest of the night and with an MRI scheduled for Friday morning, he didn't hesitate to call out his former Boston Celtics teammate.
"It's just a dirty play, to be quite honest," O'Neal said. "I mean I'm not going to go try to dive into somebody's legs — it wasn't a scramble for the ball. I respect people's ability to come out and perform and take care of their family based on their bodies.
"Either he has terrible balance as a pro athlete, or that was a dirty play," the six-time NBA All-Star added. "God don't like ugly."
VIDEO: Watch O'Neal's postgame interview
Golden State Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal talks about suffering a sprained knee and leaving Game 6 in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, his status for Game 7 and the play involving Glen Davis. News10/KXTV
And O'Neal, of course, doesn't like the idea of not playing in Game 7 Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT).
The Warriors are already down two big men, with defensive ace Andrew Bogut still out indefinitely with a fractured rib and second-year center Festus Ezeli out because of knee surgery. But O'Neal, 35 and in his 18th season, expressed optimism that he'll be ready to go by the time Saturday rolls around.
"I'm ecstatic (about the early prognosis)," O'Neal said. "Anything short of an ACL, PCL, (or) MCL (tear), and I'm playing. There are only two things that probably can stop me from playing – rapture, God coming back, and an ACL injury.
"(The doctors) have some things that they have some concerns about, so they're getting (the knee) looked at in the morning. The 15, or 13, or 15 minutes you're playing (in Game 7), give what you got. I mean, I may never see this again. I'm going to walk out on my feet."
GALLERY: Top shots from Warriors-Clippers series