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Perk practices; Jermaine O'Neal close to returning

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff  December 21, 2010 02:50 PM

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WALTHAM -- Kendrick Perkins practiced in limited fashion with the Celtics today at their practice facility at Healthpoint, working in the skeleton offense. It was Perkins's first organized work with the team since his catastrophic right knee injury suffered in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Los Angeles.

As an added bonus for those lucky folks from EMC who got to attend the Celtics' open practice session, Perkins threw down a dunk off a pick-and-roll move.

"I just ran the dummy offense with the guys and got up and down and it felt pretty good," Perkins said afterward. "Just went over the plays and got a little rhythm. It was good to be out there.''

Jermaine O'Neal, meanwhile, also got in some significant work and looked to be ready to return to the court after being out close to a month. O'Neal, who has missed the last 19 games, has been inactive with a sore left knee since the second half of an 89-87 loss at Dallas Nov. 8.

O'Neal, however, did not give any hint about whether he would be ready to play Wednesday night against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers. But he did indicate he would prefer it to be sooner than later.

"At some point, I'm going to play this week,'' O'Neal said after today's practice session. "Whether it's [Wednesday] or whether it's Christmas Day [in Orlando].''

Asked what he felt was holding him back from playing against the Sixers, O'Neal said, "I would say a little more conditioning. I think I'm durable and I can help the team, but for how long I don't know, as far as conditioning, I'm going to work out again this afternoon on the treadmill."

He was asked if it's difficult returning from a protracted absence.

"It's a challenge," he said. "We don't have a ton of practices, so you can't wait until you get five good practices, you got to when you feel like it's doable and I feel like I'm close; I may play [Wednesday].

"I'm just going to talk to the [medical] staff and see how they feel and they're doing to gauge it, but I feel like we've done enough work to protect the knee. Conditioning-wise, I'm not going to be in tip-top shape, but I will when I do have enough practices."

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