NBA / Mar 31, 2008 / 9:50 am

The Return of J.O.

IMAGE DESCRIPTIONPhoto. Steve Hill

Jermaine O’Neal is set to make his return to the Pacers lineup tonight against Miami, after having missed 34 games this season with a knee injury:

The defense should get a boost Monday if Jermaine O’Neal returns to the lineup. The forward, averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds this season, has missed 34 games with a bone bruise on his left knee.

“I’ll play Monday,” O’Neal told the Pacers’ official Web site. “As far as being able to really score the way that I want to score in the low box it’s probably going to take me a game or so, but I think that I’m going to fit right in defensively.”

O’Neal isn’t expected to start and will likely see his minutes limited to around 20 minutes, according to the Indianapolis Star.

20 minutes of a rusty Jermaine O’Neal is probably better than no J.O. at all, but if you’re a Pacers fan, do you think this is a good idea? The Pacers are sort of making a last-ditch run at the eighth seed in the playoffs, but we’re pretty sure they’re not going to be winning a chip this season. Wouldn’t you rather see Jermaine shut it down ’til next season when he’s totally healthy?

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