By Jessica Camerato
BOSTON - Jermaine O'Neal didn't play Wednesday, but it wasn't because of his injured knee.
O'Neal, who's been sidelined since early November because of knee troubles, was ready to return against the Philadelphia 76ers. He had two practices under his belt and was getting back into the swing of the game.
Until he got sick.
"I think he'll play next game Saturday against the Orlando Magic, hopefully," Doc Rivers said before the game. "Just not feeling well. Flu."
Rivers says O'Neal would have played against the 76ers if not for the bug. He was pleased with O'Neals performance in practice for one simple reason.
"He made it. He made it through practice," said Rivers. "Really, he just needed to get minutes so he was ready. I don't know how much we'll play him even when he comes back right away, but at least he'll be in uniform hopefully on the Christmas Day game."
While Rivers looks to have O'Neal back in the lineup against the Magic, he is not counting on Rajon Rondo.
Rondo (ankle) made an appearance during Tuesday's open practice, but didn't run through drills. Although Rivers has not talked to Rondo about his status, he is optimistic about the point guard's progress.
"I know he's walking and running pretty well, moving a lot better, so I know he's getting pretty close," Rivers said. "But I haven't really asked."
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcamerato