Earlier today, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Shaquille O’Neal might not really be ready to go for a while and his recovery could bleed into the playoffs.
Then in the afternoon Celtics GM Danny Ainge went on WEEI radio and said that Shaq could be back this weekend or not long after, according to the Boston Globe.
“I was just with Shaq, we were just working out down in Waltham,” Ainge said. “Shaq is either going to play Sunday or Tuesday….
“I think that Doc probably — “bleed into the playoffs” — I think is something different than he’s not going to play until the playoffs,” Ainge said. “But it looks like he’s ready to go Sunday or Tuesday.”
So what is it?
Well, we may see Shaq back next week — although his date keeps getting pushed back so you may not want to bet on it. But with him being off since Feb. 1 with an Achilles tendon injury (combined with Shaq’s, um, legendary conditioning) how much he can give at the start remains to be seen.
What matters is the playoffs. And probably not even the first round of the playoffs, when Boston will get a team it can beat (the Knick or Sixers are most likely, although Philly will push whoever gets them). But in the second round they are going to need a healthy and ready Shaq — with good minutes from Jermaine O’Neil behind him — to advance. If Shaq gets back to early season form, the Celtics could well come out of the East.
But we really don’t even know what we have with Shaq yet. And it sounds like the Celtics do not either.