Jermaine O’Neal back practicing with Celtics, may play this week

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One of the O’Neals is ready to return to Boston.

Jermaine O’Neal will return from knee surgery to Boston practices this week and said he hopes to be playing center Thursday night against the Spurs in a battle of the slumping superpowers.

Doc Rivers said fat chance he’ll play that soo our man A. Sherrod Blakely at CSN New England.

“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.”

O’Neal has dropped 12 pounds to both make himself quicker and to take some of the pressure off that surgically repaired knee.

In an ideal world Jermaine will back up Shaquille O’Neal (who is targeting next week for a return). But the Celtics are going to need both of them in the playoffs — particularly on defense — if they plan on getting another banner for the Garden rafters.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Knicks will be better. Slightly.

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I like the Knicks’ offseason moves. Well, not blowing the meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge before it ever started — you say the right things and take him to a nice dinner because that is the kind of elite player you need to try to land. Take the meeting.

However, bringing in Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo were smart pickups, and I like the Kristaps Porzingis draft pick more than many (although we need a couple of years to see how good he will really be). Combine that with a healthy Carmelo Anthony and…

The Knicks suck less. They aren’t good, but they aren’t embarrassing. And that is step one, as I discuss with Jenna Corrado in this latest PBT Extra.

Matt Barnes says he went to house because his son looked distressed

Derek Fisher, Matt Barnes, Russell Westbrook
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So far, the only substantive accounts of the Matt Barnes-Derek Fisher altercation have come from anonymous sources.

The Knicks coach has deflected questions.

But Barnes is giving his account, at least of the lead-up.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

It’s completely understandable that Barnes would act to ensure his children’s welfare.

And let’s say everything he said is true. It still leaves important questions unanswered.

Did Barnes – as he reportedly texted a friend he did – beat up Fisher and spit on his estranged wife, Gloria Govan? If so, why did Barnes deem that necessary to protect kids?