By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON — Jermaine O'Neal spent about 20 minutes on the Boston Celtics' practice court on Monday.
And the results were, uh, just what he expected.
"I was as rusty as I thought I would be," O'Neal told CSNNE.com.
Considering he hasn't played in a game since Nov. 8, being off his game was a given.
But just being able to run up the floor, and feel little to no pain afterwards, was yet another indication that he is moving past the left knee injury that has sidelined him for the last 12 games.
"Hopefully in the next week-in-a-half to two weeks, I'll be playing no problem," he said.
His return to the Celtics lineup can not come soon enough.
Despite the C's impressive 16-4 record (tops in the Eastern Conference), injuries continue to affect this team across the board.
The Celtics have been hit especially hard in the frontcourt.
In addition to O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal has also been banged up. Shaquille O'Neal has already missed five games with a ? knee injury, and was only able to play in the first half of Boston's 100-75 win at New Jersey because the same knee injury began to flare up.
Rookie center Semih Erden has been better than expected, but the C's have no idea how much longer he can hold up with a left shoulder injury that will require surgery during the offseason.
Seeing his teammates play through injuries, makes Jermaine O'Neal even more eager to return to action.
After seeing Shaquille O'Neal leave Sunday's game at New Jersey and not return, Jermaine O'Neal acknowledged that he's feeling "a little bit more pressure to get back fast."
He recalls conversations he had with the C's big men this summer about how their depth would be a great luxury in case any one of them went down with an injury.
"Danny (Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations) did a great job in signing three top big guys; myself, J.O. and Kendrick," said Shaquille O'Neal. "It's going to be scary when all of us are out there on the court at the same time."
Right now, the C's would settle for simply having them all on the active roster at the same time, something that won't happen until Perkins returns which isn't expected to happen until some time in February.
"But it is at a point where we're playing a lot more games," Jermaine O'Neal said. "Guy's bodies are starting to wear a little bit. It's important to get guy's back."
A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sherrodbcsn.