J. O'Neal rejoins C's, targets return this week

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J. O'Neal rejoins C's, targets return this week

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

INDIANAPOLIS There's little doubt that Jermaine O'Neal, if he could do it over, would have had surgery on his left knee sooner.

But that decision, much like most decisions he's made in his basketball career, comes with no regret.

All O'Neal can do now that he's fully recovered, is finish what he started.

"You make your decisions and you stand with them," he said. "You don't want to lose time, but that's what we're fighting with. It's hard to regret stuff. You go with it. You wish things would have gone differently. But in a perfect world, should I have done it earlier? Absolutely. But since we're not in a perfect world, we make human decisions."

And 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.

He's targeting Thursday night's game at San Antonio for his return, but 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.

"Whatever it's going to be, I'm physically prepared for," O'Neal said. "And if it doesn't pan out the way I want it to be, I can say I know I've given it my all."

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

Brown fires up Celtics teammates with tomahawk dunk over Vucevic

Brown fires up Celtics teammates with tomahawk dunk over Vucevic

Well it appears that Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic wasn’t the only one who didn’t see Jaylen Brown’s powerful dunk over him coming. 
 
Apparently, Brown didn’t see it coming either. 
 
“It caught me off-guard,” Brown said after Boston’s 117-87 thumping of the Magic. “I wasn’t even expecting it. It happens. It’s part of basketball. It’s two points.”
 
The play in question came early in the second quarter when Brown blew past Jodie Meeks into the lane and took off towards the rim. 
 
Vucevic jumped late, got dunked on and the Celtics bench went bananas!
 
“It gave our team a lot of energy,” Brown acknowledged.
 
Brown understands part of his job in coming off the bench is to make an impact with effort. 
 
And in doing so, he senses that his teammate’s confidence him in and his game can only grow.
 
“I feel like my teammates are trusting me more, getting more trust from the coaching staff,” said Brown who finished with 13 points. 
 
Avery Bradley likes what he’s seen from Brown, a young player who has shown tremendous promise. 
 
And that dunk over Vucevic?
 
“You’re going to see a lot more of those in his career,” Bradley said. “He gets us going.”

Brown and Rozier seize opportunity, provide spark off Celtics bench

Brown and Rozier seize opportunity, provide spark off Celtics bench

There was Terry Rozier, delivering dizzying crossover dribbles that set up open jumpers, soon followed by defenders he then beat to the rim for easy scores. 
 
“I felt like I was in college a little bit,” Rozier told reporters Wednesday night. 
 
The second-year guard is a long way from his days at Louisville, but make no mistake about it.
 
His basketball education is ongoing, but on Wednesday it was Rozier and rookie Jaylen Brown teaching the Orlando Magic a lesson as Boston pulled away for a 117-87 victory.
 
Playing without Isaiah Thomas (right groin), Rozier came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points. 
 
And Brown, whose hustle and above-the-rim play energized the Celtics most of the night, had 13 points which included a powerful, poster-worthy dunk over an unsuspecting Nikola Vucevic. 

"I didn't expect to dunk, nor did I expect him to jump," Brown told reporters after the game. "When it happened, I was just as surprised as everyone else."
 
The Celtics (13-9) were pleased with the victory which included contributions from several players. 
 
But there was added pleasure for the veteran Celtics in watching their youthful teammates step up and play well.
 
“It’s hard as a young player to come in and find yourself on a team,” Boston’s Al Horford told reporters after the win. “And those guys are really hard workers. As the season goes on, they’ll become more comfortable with what we’re trying to do.”
 
We have seen Brown put in positions where he was given an opportunity to make a major impact. 
 
His first NBA start came against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. 
 
Boston lost 128-122 to the Cavs, but Brown had a career-high 19 points, five rebounds and three steals. 
 
Brown said when he’s on the floor with Rozier, the two have a very specific agenda. 
 
“Me and Terry get in, we talk to each other and say, ‘we gotta run,’” Brown said. “That’s our focus; we’re young. We try to get up and down the floor. It makes the game easier for us.”
 
The Celtics' second unit has been in a constant state of change most of this season due to the number of injuries sustained by the preferred starting five. 

So getting more consistent play from the team’s youngsters like Rozier and Brown is huge for this team going forward especially if they will be without Thomas for multiple games which is a possibility. 
 
“It was a great opportunity; they seized it,” Horford said. “Moving forward, if they play like they did tonight; defense first, confident, I feel like there will be plenty of more opportunities to show what they have.”