Shaq confident of quicker return

Shaquille O'Neal is optimistic that he will be back to help the Cavaliers in the stretch run.

The center, who had thumb surgery on Monday, told ESPN's Jeremy Schaap that he will be back in six weeks instead of the eight that the team said he will miss. That would allow him to return for the start of the playoffs. The Cavs currently own the NBA's best record.

O'Neal has played well for the Cavaliers, averaging 12 points and 6.7 rebounds in 53 games. He injured the thumb Thursday at Boston when his shot was blocked by Glen Davis with just over 7 minutes left in the first half.

Cavs general manager Danny Ferry said O'Neal will wear a splint for the next two weeks, then begin his rehab.

"Our guys have done a very good job of stepping up this season. We are confident they will do the same in this situation," Ferry said. "We are fortunate to have some depth in our frontcourt that can keep us moving forward while Shaq recovers and returns to play for the postseason."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.