NEW YORK – Shaquille O'Neal is "closer" to returning, although Boston coach Doc Rivers isn't sure when that will be.
O'Neal traveled with the Celtics to New York for Game 3, but doesn't intend to play Friday. He could be available for Game 4 on Sunday.
"Listen, he's just feeling better and he's closer. I don't know what he needs to show me," Rivers said after the Celtics' morning shootaround. "He's not ready to play yet, but he's getting closer. The fact that he's getting closer, you bring him on the road."
O'Neal has been sidelined by a strained right calf after playing in only 37 games because of injuries. Asked if he was game ready, O'Neal responded "I'll try."
The Celtics may not need O'Neal against the smaller Knicks, but would want him available for a potential second-round matchup with Miami.
"I'm worried about getting him right and healthy," Rivers said. "There's no strategical game plan for not playing him. There's a medical game plan for not playing him and he can't play. Once he can play, he can play."