PLAYA VISTA – Injured guard J.J. Redick practiced for the second day in a row Friday. And while it is not a direct indication that the Clippers can expect Redick to make a return in the near future, it’s certainly a reason for optimism.

“He went through a full practice and he looked good,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “But then you have to wake up the next day and feel better and do it again. That’s the whole problem with any injury. Anybody can come in and play for one day. Whether you can do it over and over again will be the key.”

Redick has missed the past 18 games with a bulging disc in his lower back. He is not expected to play Saturday against the Pistons, but after weeks of treatment and work he is making progress towards a return.

“I’d like to be back Saturday, but that’s not realistic,” Redick said. “Part of it is just continuing to get back in shape but also managing the injury. There still needs to be a little bit more improvement. It’s kind of a day-to-day thing. Some days are better than others.”

In a year when the Clippers (48-21) as a whole have battled through enough injuries to prevent them from having a fully available roster since mid-November, Redick has had the most frustrating bout. He missed training camp with a quadriceps injury and was sidelined with a broken hand and torn ligament in his wrist after a hard fall from being undercut by DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento. That play, according to Redick, may have contributed to his most recent injury as well.

“There’s nothing we can say definitively about that, but in talking with Jasen [Powell], our trainer, and the doctors, I definitely think that had something to do with it,” said Redick. “It wasn’t just the [one] fall. It was the fall the week prior when [Travis] Outlaw clotheslined me. So, I had two falls in a week. I haven’t had any back issues, really, since 2006 at the combine, so I definitely think that contributed to it.”

Redick has appeared in just 13 games since the Cousins play, including missing five weeks while recovering from the wrist injury. Still, he’s averaged 15.7 points per game in 30 starts and is shooting 39.6 percent from 3-point range.

The Clippers have exercised caution with Redick because of the nature of his injury and because come Playoff time, when the court seems to shrink and defensive energy picks up, he could be invaluable. Still, Redick lamented sitting out the process of helping the Clippers get to where they are, currently third in the West and appearing to be one of a handful of teams with a chance to win a title.

“Our team has a chance to be a championship contender,” Redick said. “Without me, I think we are. With me, I think we are. Not being a part of that and not being a part of the growth of the team is frustrating. And also as an athlete, any time you’re hurt period. It’s mentally frustrating.”

Due to the nature of Redick’s injury, Rivers said he could be in and out of the lineup even once he returns. 

“We just don’t know,” Rivers said when asked about a timetable. “And it may be inconsistent when he comes back. He may be able to play a couple of games and have to rest. We don’t know any of those things.”