Shaq: I'm just trying to get back

Shaq: I'm just trying to get back

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK Shaquille O'Neal was on the Madison Square Garden floor getting some stretching in this morning.

Only time will tell when he'll be back on the floor in an actual game for the Celtics.

"I don't want to talk. Let the players talk. I'm just trying to get back," O'Neal said as he left the floor following Friday morning's shootaround.

The fact that the 39-year-old is with the team on the road is a signal that O'Neal's health is improving. Although he is with the team for Games 3 and 4, Rivers said he's definitely out for tonight's Game 3 matchup and is doubtful for Game 4 on Sunday.

"He's just feeling better," Rivers said. "He's close. I don't know what he needs to show me. He's not ready to play yet, but he's getting closer. The fact that he's getting closer, you bring him on the road."

Boston leads the best-of-seven series with New York, 2-0.

There are some who believe that the C's should hold O'Neal out for the remainder of this series to ensure that he's as rested as possible for a likely second-round matchup with Miami.

Rivers said there's none of that going on right now with the Celtics sitting O'Neal who has played in a career-low 37 games this season.

"You need him when you need him," Rivers said. "There's no strategical game plan for not playing him. There's a medical game plan."

Boston also got some good news on the other O'Neal.

Jermaine O'Neal re-aggravated a left wrist injury in Boston's Game 2 matchup against the Knicks. He left the floor and went back in the locker room, but eventually returned to the floor.

"I feel good," O'Neal said.

He has been playing with some type of brace on the wrist, and added that he would continue to play with it.

O'Neal re-aggravated the injury trying to take a charge.

"I fell back on it, and irritated it a little bit," O'Neal said. "That's all it was; just tried to brace myself. In the flow of a game, you don't really determine what way you fall. I fell and it got irritated. It feels a lot better. Got some treatments on it, and I should be ready to rock tonight. "

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

Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

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Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Pinpointing the exact moment Al Horford made up his mind to become a Boston Celtics isn’t clear, but the seeds of that decision can be traced back to last year’s playoffs – and no we’re not talking about the playoff series between Boston and Atlanta, either.
 
It was the Hawk’s second-round playoff series back in May against Cleveland, a team that swept them out of the Conference finals in 2015 and did so again last about five months ago.
 
Horford had every intention of returning to Atlanta, but as the free agency period wore on two things became quite clear: Winning an NBA title would have to go through Cleveland and it happening with him in Atlanta was becoming more and more unlikely.
 
In came the Celtics with a pitch that was heavy on present-day and down-the-road potential that wouldn’t require him to do anything other than continue to play the way he has for the past nine seasons.
 
“It (becoming a Celtic) became real for me real late and real quick,” Horford told CSNNE.com on Wednesday.
 
After mulling it over for a couple days, Horford said he was ready to become a Celtic.
 
“This could be a great opportunity even though I’m leaving a lot behind,” Horford said.
 
As you listen to Horford speak, it’s clear that the Celtics mystique played a role in his decision to sign with Boston.

 But as much as the Celtics’ lore and its on-the-rise status helped, there were certain events that Boston had no control over that actually helped their cause.
 
First the Hawks got in on a three-team trade in June with Utah and Indiana which sent Hawks All-Star point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers while Atlanta received Utah’s first-round pick which was 12th overall and was used by Atlanta to select Baylor’s Taurean Prince. The move allowed Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder to slide over into the now-vacant starting point guard position.
 
While it may help Atlanta down the road, it did little to move them closer towards knocking off Cleveland anytime soon.
 
And then there was the Hawks coming to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard early in the free agency period. That deal coupled with Atlanta’s desire to bring Kent Bazemore back, cast serious doubt as to whether Horford would return.
 
Horford, who inked a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston, told CSNNE.com that at the time of Atlanta’s deal with Howard, he was still open to the idea of returning.
 
But if Horford did, he knew figuring out the best way to play him, Howard and Paul Millsap who by the way has a player option that he’s likely to exercise which would make him a free agent next summer, was not going to be easy.

“It was definitely going to be different,” Horford said, then adding, “For me, the Celtics were becoming more and more a realistic option. After talking with my family, we felt this was the best for me.”
 
And while it’s still very early in his tenure as a Celtic, Horford has no regrets or second thoughts about his decision.
 
“As a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
 
And that alone makes him a good fit with this franchise which from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff and of course the players, are all focused on one thing and that’s bringing home Banner 18.
 
 “Look at the resume. He’s been a winner wherever he’s played,” said Boston’s Amir Johnson. “It’s good to have a guy like that, with his talent and with his winning, playing next to you.”