Will Shaq Play Before the Playoffs?
Mike Brown and the Cavs don’t seem to be in any hurry to suit up O’Neal (who’s reportedly lost 20 pounds) prior to the postseason, says the Plain Dealer: “While the Cavaliers decide whether or not to play Shaquille O’Neal in the season finale on Wednesday, it may be easy to forget that having the option to play him before the end of the season is a victory in itself. O’Neal has been cleared by doctors to return and he went through all of practice Monday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. If his right thumb makes it through Tuesday’s contact practice without problems, there’s a good chance coach Mike Brown will give him around 20 minutes of playing time Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks. When O’Neal first had surgery to repair the torn ligament in his thumb, the team projected he could be out up to eight weeks. That timetable could have forced him to miss the first round of the playoffs. But Monday was exactly six weeks to the day that Dr. Thomas Graham fixed O’Neal’s thumb at the National Hand Center in Baltimore and O’Neal was at 100 percent. Doctors were so pleased with the healing process that O’Neal, who has lost around 20 pounds by running and cutting out cheeseburgers during his absence, probably could have returned earlier if the games were more important. Perhaps not wanting to jinx the recovery, O’Neal declined to talk about his progress Monday and said he would discuss it when he was activated. ‘I think he’s ready to go; he said he’s healthy,” LeBron James said. “He’s in shape, but it is totally different from being out on the court and that type of shape.”‘