Shaquille O'Neal: Why Shaq and the Boston Celtics Are a Great Match
Don't let the detractors or skeptics fool you, Celtics fans. Shaq on the Celtics is a good thing.
Earlier today, A. Sherrod Blakely of Comcast Sportsnet New England reported on twitter that it appears the Boston Celtics are close to bringing in the 18-year veteran for next season. Details pertaining to the specifics of the deal are still unknown.
Some people are concerned about the acquisition for the wrong reasons. For instance, they are afraid of the possible congestion at the center position with Kendrick Perkins and the two O'Neals.
First and foremost, Perkins is optimistically looking toward February for his return from an MCL injury that may have cost the Celtics this year's finals. As a result, you saw Shelden Williams playing a significant role in the NBA finals. As a Massachusetts native, it really did hurt to write that last sentence.
Now, despite the displeasure old school basketball fans get from watching Shaq in his older years, he is about 332,939,932 times better than Shelden Williams.
For all the "Shaq is washed up talk," there aren't many who play better post defense or provide a presence in the paint like Shaq. Men and women lie, but numbers don't.
In less then 29 minutes a game, Shaq averaged 12 points and 6 rebounds on a 60-plus win team last season. To say he's not a starter anymore in a league in which Darko Milicic and Ben Wallace are is a little ridiculous. Nevertheless, he probably won't start as a member of the Celtics.
Celtics fans have been encouraging the absolute worst mentality for their team in this upcoming season. People keep stating that the regular season doesn't matter, but the fact still remains that they lost the most important game of the 2009-2010 season in the home arena of the best team in basketball last season.
Even with Perk's injury, it's hard to believe that they would have lost in a Game 7 in the Garden. It's important for the Celtics to have a great regular season, and I think that's very possible. The Celtics should aim to rest their older players but remain dominant as well.
I think one of the more important things Shaq brings is flexibility—though of course not with his body. But I think the Celtics have a realistic chance of keeping their bigs fresh for the long season. Imagine how hard and physical the Celtics bigs will be able to play with so much flexibility. Imagine Perkins not having to really worry about fouls. It's going to strengthen the defense a lot.
So at the end of the day, each potential problem that the acquisition of Shaq brings to the Celtics can be dealt with by solid coaching.
As Doc Rivers thinks back to those few weeks in June when he was contemplating whether to return to this team, I know he has a smile on his face. Days after the heartbreaking game seven one could only imagine Doc was thinking to himself "what a game!" With Shaq potentially being the final piece of a increasingly perplexing basketball puzzle, literally the biggest piece of an already spirited-club filled with a wide range of personalities, Doc has to be saying "what a group!"
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