Shaq may not return until playoffs

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Shaq may not return until playoffs

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

SAN ANTONIO The Boston Celtics are starting to get worried that Shaquille O'Neal's sabbatical from the game to deal with an assortment of right footlegAchilles tendon continues to take longer than expected.

While the goal is to have him suit up before the playoffs, Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledged on Thursday that the team has no definitive idea as to when the 7-foot-1 center will be back.

"I really hope we can get him before the playoffs," said Rivers, who added that the injury is starting to "get close to bleeding" into the team's postseason plans.

While the C's maintain there hasn't been any setback -- in fact, Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told WEEI soon after Rivers spoke that O'Neal would be back Sunday or Tuesday of next week -- they do say it has taken longer to heal than anticipated. (Isn't that a setback?)

There will certainly be an adjustment period when he does return, whenever that may be.

Still, there are certain positives that O'Neal brings to the floor that trump whatever adjustments he needs to make in terms of Xs and Os.

"The good thing with him is that he's still big and strong," Rivers said. "But not playing until the playoffs would be difficult."

And because of O'Neal's role with the team, the C's aren't banking on him to be a dominate presence for extended periods of time.

"The thing is, it's not like he's a focal point offensively," Rivers said. "Defensively, he does what he does. His size is a factor. But you still have to know all the sets offensively and defensively for the other guys to run stuff."

His size. His strength.

Rivers has a good handle on those things.

But it is the unknown - when will O'Neal return - that he admits presents yet another hurdle for the Celtics moving forward.

"I just don't know because I've never had this situation," Rivers said. "It's getting to become a challenge. It wasn't before, because I just viewed it as a regular-season injury. Now it's starting to get close to bleeding into playoffs. Now that becomes a challenge."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: George, Hayward, or Griffin?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: George, Hayward, or Griffin?

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0:41 - Celtics are reportedly trying to trade for Paul George and sign Gordon Hayward. Kevin O’Connor joins BST to break down how the Celtics could fit both players under the cap and what Boston would have to give up to acquire George. 

6:37 - Kevin O’Connor joins Michael Holley, Kayce Smith, and Tom Curran to talk about Blake Griffin, what kind of contract he could get, and if Griffin could be a better fit over Gordon Hayward. 

10:13 - With Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs getting into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Phil Perry joins Tom Curran to discuss how Robert Kraft getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame might not be as easy of a process as you think. 

14:05 - If the Celtics were to add George and Hayward or Griffin, would they be a better team than the Cavaliers? Curran, Giles, and Smith discuss.