A few news and notes from the revolving door of injuries this team continues to face. Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com helps us get back up to date.
First, we start with Shaq who despite his lack of improvement with the injury is starting to ramp it up towards a return next week:
The objective with the boot is to eliminate the return of swelling after his Achilles injury flared up again recently while he was trying to work his way back to game action, according to the sources. The Celtics remain optimistic that O’Neal, who has been sidelined with the injury since Feb. 1, could return next week.
O’Neal traveled with the team on a recently completed three-game road trip with the goal of participating in walk-through activities as he ramped up toward game action. But the foot that has been prone to flare-ups did so again, forcing the team to aggressively attack with the injection.
A source told ESPN Boston on Wednesday that O’Neal would hopefully be back on the floor by April 1, allowing him two weeks before the end of the regular season to shake off rust and get acclimated with his teammates again.
In a bit of surprise news, Von Wafer who has missed several weeks with a calf injury hit the practice floor yesterday for the first time since his injury:
Wafer participated fully in the practice, including the scrimmage sessions, then returned to the court after for additional shooting. He was waiting to see how it responds to the activity.
“We’ll see how it feels in the morning,” said Wafer. “We’ll probably know better then.”
Wafer traveled with the team on its recently completed three-game road trip, but only engaged in light activities, mostly shooting drills. While Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before Wednesday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies that Wafer was still a ways out from returning, the reserve shooting guard is optimistic about his recovery thus far.
“I was thinking I’d probably be out for a few more days,” admitted Wafer. “I think I did come back faster than I thought.”
Now he’s hoping he can do the same for game action, particularly as the Celtics start the process of identifying their 12-man playoff roster. If Wafer can get back to the level he was playing at before the injury, he has a chance to earn a final spot, maybe over another backup wing like Sasha Pavlovic.
“I’m thinking about getting back healthy and trying to come back stronger than when I left,” said Wafer. “That’s all I’m concerned about. If I get to play, or if I don’t, either way I won’t be disappointed. You never know what to expect.”
I had all but written off any chance that Wafer had to contribute this year, given how severe the calf injury sounded at first. If Von gets back into action next week however, his athleticism and solid defense could be a solid plus for this squad’s new and improved second unit and its struggling offense. The C’s need attacking right now with their offense, and that’s something Wafer can provide in a pinch.
Troy Murphy also rolled his ankle at practice yesterday, probably further eliminating any chance he had at earning meaningful minutes before the returns of Shaq and JO. It’s too bad Danny didn’t go with Leon.