Celtics

NBA: Jermaine O'Neal Returning to Celtics This Week?

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While his decision to try and rehab the knee failed and kept him off the floor for the bulk of this season, O'Neal understands his contributions to this team, even if he were healthy all year, wouldn't mean a lot if he didn't step his game up in the playoffs.

But first things first.

O'Neal has to get some practice time in - that will come on Wednesday - and from there, he'll return to the floor.

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He's targeting Thursday night's game at San Antonio for his return, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers isn't nearly as optimistic.

"I doubt it," Rivers said when asked about O'Neal coming back that quickly. "There's a chance. That's just so quick. Honestly, the only way is if we had some type of other injury or something. Even then, I doubt I'd do it."

Regardless of when he returns, O'Neal has prepared himself as best he could.

Working out in Chicago with famed trainer Tim Grover, O'Neal said he has spent weeks working out six days a week.

The result is he's in better shape now than he was when he reported to the Celtics this summer, adding that he has also dropped 12 pounds to take even more pressure off his surgically repaired left knee.

So first Shaq and now JO has shed the weight. Might have been a smarter idea to come in to camp with your new team in shape, so as to avoid injuries, but what's done is done. At this point we desperately need someone with the last name O'Neal to be able to give us 24 quality minutes a game in the playoffs, and I don't care which one it is.

Right now with Shaq having nagging foot problems (never a good sign with old 7 footers) JO is the more likely candidate to provide those minutes. Jermaine very well could re-injure himself, but there's also a chance he becomes the defensive presence the Celtics signed him to be. We've waited this long, so I don't blame Doc for being willing to wait just a bit longer.