2011 NBA Playoffs: Rivers Says Shaq Close To A Return. Again.

We hope you're sitting down, Celtics fans. Some big news has broken. Shaquille O'Neal might play at some point in the next couple of games in the C's Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Miami Heat. Stop the presses.

"He's getting very close," said Celts coach Doc Rivers to ESPN Boston of his MIA big man prior to his team's 99-90, Game 1 loss to the Heat. "Honestly, we had to make a decision today so that's better than what we've had to do in the past. He's getting close. Maybe next game. If not, I would say for sure game 3."

Or maybe Game 4. Or next week. Or the next series. Or next year. Or in 2017. No disrespect to Rivers, whose integrity goes pretty much unmatched among NBA coaches, but the daily updates on Shaq's condition, usually peppered with ambiguous, not-quite timetables regarding his possible return to action, have long since become a joke. Shaq may well suit up and play in Game 2 on Tuesday night or in Game 3 back in Boston on Saturday. But Rivers, or Danny Ainge or whomever have been quoted as saying that O'Neal is "close" or "might be back soon" or what have you so many times over the past three months only to have nothing actually happen, they may as well just ignore the questions and say nothing on the topic until Shaq actually does make his long-awaited return to game action.

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