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Latest Shaq timetable: April 3. Or 5. Somewhere in there.

Mar 28, 2011, 9:32 AM EDT

Shaq_dunk

Last we heard, Shaquille O’Neal might have been back by April 1.

Nope.

He had a shot to ease pain in his foot and has been wearing a boot, which should come off later this week, but Doc Rivers told the Boston Globe not to expect the big man back that fast. Think April 3. Or more likely 5. Or…

“Just being around the game long enough to know when you take a boot off you usually don’t play a day later. I just don’t see him flying on a plane after you get your boot off. I just think that’s unrealistic.

“There’s a better chance (April 3), I still don’t think that’s realistic. I think more the game the day after that would be our target date for Shaq. I would say they’re thinking maybe Atlanta or the first game back, but I think there’s no chance of that.”

An April 5 return would leave Shaq six games to get his feel and timing back before the start of the playoffs. That shouldn’t be too hard — he played in and started 36 games for Boston this season — but that is a lot of rust to shake off. Boston needs him on the back line defending and rebounding to get back to the finals.

We might have said Boston would be in trouble counting on Shaq to come back and own the paint again, but after last season’s run in the playoffs we won’t be fooled again. Boston is not going to surprise us this time. We expect the Celtics to be ready to roll when it matters.

  1. henryd3rd - Mar 29, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    Ole Danny Boy Ainge may have hooked his wagon to the wrong horses. Shaq’s condition does not bode well for the Celtics. Jermaine O’Neal has not been healthy in a month of Sundays and Rondo’s nursing varies little injuries. To believe that these guys will be ready for the playoff and challenge the new order in the NBA, i.e., Chicago and Miami is a bit optimistic at best.

    Whomever they face in the first round of the playoffs will give them all they can handle and should they advance they are looking at either the Bulls or the Heat. Father Time has a way of making even the best Superstars look mortal and the O’Neals have been looking mortal for years.

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