Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Shaquille O’Neal  will be back. Shaquille O’Neal won’t be back.
Whether or not Shaq will return for the Celtics at any point during these NBA Playoffs  is kinda like how I tell myself every morning that I’m definitely going to the gym — and then don’t. Ruled out for Games 1 and 2 with a right calf strain, Shaq remains listed as day-to-day on the injury report. Meanwhile, Celtics president Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers  keep telling the media some version of, “He’ll be back; we just don’t know when.”
The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune’s Bill Burt cited an NBA source  who believes Shaq is done for the season. Or does he? Here’s the exact phrasing from Burt’s story:
Shaquille O’Neal may have worn a Boston Celtics  uniform for the last time.
In what would be a crippling blow to their chances of winning a title, the Celtics are going forward as if the affable center won’t be returning to team for the playoffs, according to an NBA source.
The Celtics came to this conclusion after Shaq failed to complete one simple sprint up and down the court during a “conditioning test” on Saturday, before he limped off the court in Waltham.
The Celtics held out a slim hope Shaq would be able to make his return in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Knicks or possibly in the conference semifinals, if they advanced.
“If he were to come back, it would have to be a miraculous recovery,” said the source, who requested anonymity. “And at his age (he turned 39 on March 6) and physical condition, the Celtics have planned accordingly.”
Sounds like a lot of speculation to me. He “may have worn” Green for the final time? That could’ve been written yesterday, the day before that or a month before that. Of course the Celtics are moving forward as if Shaq’s not returning. What else are they going to do? Stop practicing until the Big Fella suits up? Obviously, they’ll move forward with Jermaine O’Neal  as the starting center and Davis as the No. 2, and they’ll adjust if Shaq returns.
We already knew about the failed conditioning test, we already knew the Celtics are holding out hope for a return in the first or second rounds and we already knew Rivers had one game plan with Shaq and one game plan without him.
So, really, all we learned is that an NBA source believes it would take “a miraculous recovery” for Shaq to return, based on “his age and physical condition.” We already knew Shaq was 39 years old, and we already knew Shaq weighs at least 325 pounds.
So, before Celtics Nation enters a state of panic, know that Shaquille O’Neal will be reevaluated before Game 3. If he can go, he will. If not, he’ll be reevaluated for Game 4 … and so on and so on. It’s the same old story.
After all, another NBA source, Shaq’s live-in girlfriend Nicole “Hoopz” Alexander tweeted during Tuesday’s game : “Babes will be back soon, we need him!!!”
INJURY UPDATES: CHAUNCEY BILLUPS  & AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE
If the Knicks were forced to issue an NFL-like Injury Report, they’d probably have Chauncey Billups listed as doubtful and Amar’e Stoudemire listed as probable. Here’s the latest on each:
Chauncey Billups, who is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his strained left knee on Monday in New York (via New York Post ):
Billups, 34, has not been ruled out of Game 3 Friday in New York, but it does not look very promising, as he was still hobbling in the locker room.
“I don’t know. I’ll find out more [today],” Billups told The Post after the game. “Of course I’m concerned. It’s feeling better today as far as walking and stuff. Hopefully it will continue to get better.”
Amar’e Stoudemire, who is recovering from back spasms — suffered in the layup line during Game 2 — for the first time in his career (via New York Daily News ):
“I’m not sure,” Stoudemire said. “We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, and the next day, and then I’m pretty sure – hopefully – I’ll be ready to go by Friday.”
THE CELTICS LAYUP DRILL
Considering Knicks starting 2-guard Landry Fields has scored four points on 2-of-7 shooting in 34-plus minutes over the first two games of the series, I’m guessing New York fans aren’t enjoying his daily entries in the Post every morning. Here’s a tidbit from Tuesday’s entry : “This loss is real tough. A lot of guys played really hard. Especially down the stretch. You’re proud of them for doing that, but it’s tough to come away with a loss like this. I think we’re pretty confident going home. I think these are two games that we could have stolen away. We could easily be up 2-0 right now. So all we’ve got to do is protect home court now.” …
The Knicks actually sent video to the NBA league offices of two Game 1 plays they disputed, according to The Globe ‘s Gary Washburn: 1) Kevin Garnett ‘s pick of Toney Douglas  that freed Ray Allen  for the game-winner, and 2) Delonte West ‘s chest bump of Allen on the court during a non-timeout. The league reportedly conceded that Garnett fouled Douglas and West should’ve been whistled for a delay of game. …
Game 1 between the Celtics and Knicks was the second-highest rated  first-round NBA Playoff game ever, behind only Game 7 of the 2009 Celtics-Bulls series. The Celtics and Knicks drew a 3.6 U.S. rating and 6.0 million viewers. …
Celtics forward Glen Davis (75 votes) finished fourth for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year honor , behind Lakers forward Lamar Odom (513), Mavericks guard Jason Terry  (244) and 76ers forward Thaddeus Young (76). Big Baby did not receive a first-place vote, but he did get 19 second-place and 18 third-place votes. …
In a Sports Illustrated poll  of 166 NBA players that posed the question “Who do you want shooting with the game on the line?” 74 percent of the respondents chose Lakers guard Kobe Bryant . Thunder forward Kevin Durant  (8%), Heat guard Dwyane Wade  (3%), Celtics guard Ray Allen (2%) and Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki  (2%) also received votes.