WALTHAM Chris Wilcox is back . . . sort of.
Sunday marks the first day Wilcox will be on the floor, expected to participate in practice.
While there's not expected to be a lot of contact, Wilcox and his injured right thumb will get enough work to see where he stands.
Although a Wilcox appearance in Monday night's game against Charlotte seems highly unlikely, the C's have not totally ruled him out for suiting up, either.
"I just have to get comfortable catching the ball, shooting the ball and different things like that," Wilcox said. "After that, I think things will be straight."
The 6-foot-10 big man has missed the last 12 games because of the injury, robbing the Celtics and Rajon Rondo of what has been one of Rondo's favorite targets for lob dunks.
Since Wilcox went down, Rondo has averaged 8.3 assists per game -- down from 12.5 prior to Wilcox getting hurt against Chicago on Dec. 18.
Even if he were to suit up for Monday's game against the Bobcats, Wilcox still isn't fully healed.
He is currently wearing a cast-like wrap surrounding the thumb area to help absorb some of the potential pain he might experience in a real game.
Even when the thumb injury fully heals, Wilcox will likely wear some type of protective covering.
His return to practice comes at a time when the Celtics seem to have found their stride, especially the play of their second unit.
Boston comes into Monday's game against Charlotte having won a season-high five straight, with the bench playing a pivotal role in that success.
"We're all kind of in the roles coach Doc Rivers envisioned for us to be in," guard Jason Terry told CSNNE.com. "Everybody is comfortable, have a better feel for what we need to do out there to be successful; we have an identity now."
It remains to be seen how Wilcox will fit in with this much-improved second unit of Boston, which trails Miami by just 5 12 games for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
As for Wilcox, it's unlikely that he will resume his role prior to the injury, which was to be the first big man off the bench in place of Kevin Garnett.
Boston has tried a couple of different approaches to filling the void left by Wilcox off the bench.
The C's have settled on having rookie Jared Sullinger enter the game for Garnett at about the 5:00 mark.
In this role, the C's bench has thrived while Sullinger has tallied a double-double in each of Boston's last two games.
Boston has also turned to Jason Collins who has seven starts this season.
"We need everybody on this roster to achieve what our main goal is," Terry said.
But if Wilcox is to find a way to get back in the rotation, it begins Sunday with practice.
"This is when you need practice time for guys who haven't been in the flow of things," said Garnett. "It's good to have him back. Today should be a very interesting and passionate day. It's good to have Chris back."