The most interesting twist in the NBA playoffs is the return of Shaquille O’Neal. If this were 1998 or even 2005 this would be a big deal, but in 2011 does it really mean anything at all. Shaq was the most dominant player of his era when he was in his prime. The man could move mountains in the post and he had the uncanny ability to make the big defensive play that his team needed in the clutch.
Ironically Shaq’s popularity has declined and he is more popular now for whom he dates, and what he does off the court versus what he does on it. This season Shaq has been just a shell of his former self and has been on the shelf injured for more games than he has been available for.
No doubt the big man has slowed down some, but what if he can become a shadow of his former self. What if he can for a quarter or even a spell of minutes become dominant like he used to be? Can he be inspired to turn it up a notch even if it’s pure adrenaline or is that asking too much from the 38 year old? What do the Celtics have to lose? It is obvious that they miss the big Kendrick Perkins.
The Celtics are being outrun and out hustled in this series and maybe Shaq can give them some bonus time even if its just 4 to 5 minutes per quarter. Conditioning will be an issue but honestly it shouldn’t affect his shooting since he is not a shooter anyways. His game is built on position and strength. If you think about it, the Heat don’t really have an answer for O’Neal. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is not a banger and Joel Anthony is not big enough.
One of the reasons the Celtics were able to dominate the Heat during the regular season was the use of Perkins and Shaq on the smaller Miami frontline. The first two games have obviously revealed how much those two big bodies are needed. The funny thing is that when the season began no team had more big bodies than the Celtics, now they are decimated on the frontline and they are betting on the beat up legs of a 38 year old legend that may or may not have it in him to be great once again.
We will be graced with witnessing a legend be great or we will watch as the final chapter is written on O’Neal’s legacy. Either way it’s worth tuning in.
Stay Breezy ~ I’m Out!