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.