For the Boston Celtics, the NBA playoffs can be considered a time of war. Lengthy battles are waged on the court, sometimes with casualties (Kendrick Perkins), but when all goes according to plan, the team is able to preside over the kingdom of the NBA for an offseason.
The addition of Shaquille O’Neal has created a lot of buzz in Boston with championship talk accompanying him.
Is Shaq the missing piece that eluded the Celtics last season?
Can the battle-tested veteran rise to the occasion one more time and help the conquering Celtics win Green 18?
The answers to these questions will be revealed in due time, but for now, let’s take that look at the warrior ways Shaq can be a difference-maker for the Celtics in the playoffs.
In medieval times, if you wanted to attack the opposition, you started off by breaking down their defense with a battering ram.
So far this season, Shaq has been the Celtics' battering ram.
He is the go to guy early and often, usually producing well in the first quarter. It’s this strategy that has given the Celtics a unique look off the bat, while the team can settle into a different game plan later on.
Shaq has conquered the competition on the court in the early going for the Celtics this season. While he doesn’t play much more than 20 MPG, he has one of the best plus/minus ratings per minute in the league.
Simply put, when Shaq is on the floor, the Celtics are a better team. You can dissect the numbers any way you like, but it all adds up in the end.
Like Alexander the Great, victory is in hand when Shaq is leading the charge.
When you look at the teams who have won a championship over the past 10 years, most have featured a dominant center on at least one end of the floor.
Shaq will allow the Celtics to “get inside” enemy territory, become a distraction and open the gates for the rest of team to work around him and flourish.
Age is a looming factor for the Boston Celtics these days, so the time to strike and knock their opponents down early and often in the playoffs will fuel Shaq and company.
Unlike the Celtics championship team of 2007, which played in 26 postseason games, the Celtics will need end things early before going in for the kill. Luckily, they have shown their ability to blow out teams in their most recent wins, so the opportunities have presented themselves.
Going in for the kill early will keep Shaq fresh, allowing him to play more minutes, which will greatly improve Boston’s chances at ruling the NBA again.