J. O'Neal practices with C's, probable vs. Spurs

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J. O'Neal practices with C's, probable vs. Spurs

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

SAN ANTONIO Unless there's an unexpected turn for the worse -- and when you're talking about the Boston Celtics, nothing related to injuries can be ruled out entirely -- Jermaine O'Neal will be back in the Celtics lineup Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs.

O'Neal, out since having left knee surgery in early February, returned to practice on Wednesday.

Coach Doc Rivers, who has had his share of injuries suffered in practice, didn't know what to expect.

"He had a good practice," Rivers said. "He missed shots and all that stuff, but overall, I thought he was terrific."

Rivers added that he thought O'Neal's quickness and activity after such a lengthy layoff were better than he anticipated.

"I was happy," Rivers said. "I was very happy with him."

Afterward, O'Neal was feeling pretty good, as well.

"It felt good; first day," O'Neal said. "It felt good, just to get some of the terminology back. For the most part, physically I feel strong."

Of course, O'Neal has to make it through the next 24 hours without no significant pain or soreness in order for the Celtics to feel comfortable with him playing against the Spurs.

That shouldn't be a problem, not with O'Neal spending the past few weeks working out in Chicago and not having any kind of significant soreness or swelling afterward.

There's no telling how many minutes O'Neal will play against San Antonio.

But the truth is, it really doesn't matter.

As much as they would like to have O'Neal playing solid at both ends of the floor, they need him as another big body even more.

He's not expecting to put up big numbers in his return.

More than anything, he's concerned with helping the C's get a victory.

"That's what this is all about," he told CSNNE.com. "Trying to help this team win games now, and in the playoffs. Nothing else -- my numbers or what have you -- means anything. It's all about finding ways to win games."

Also present at practice Wednesday was Von Wafer, who is recovering from a strained right calf.

Shaquille O'Neal and Troy Murphy were the only two players not in attendance.

Shaquille O'Neal's return date is tentatively scheduled for April 5 at home against Philadelphia, but, as it has in the past, could be pushed back.

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

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.


 

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
 
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
 
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
 
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
 
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
 
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
 
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
 
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
 
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
 
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”