2011 NBA Playoffs: How Jermaine O'Neal Has Reenergized the Boston Celtics

Steven BaldassariContributor IIIMarch 30, 2011

The Boston Celtics had been struggling heading into the playoffs. That is news to no one who is an NBA basketball fan.

Many feel the C's headed into the playoffs looking ripe for the picking. Drool happy Glen Davis and the Celtics were once feared Beasts of the East. Once upon a time, they instilled fear into the hearts of their challengers.

It has been obvious to nearly everyone that the Celtics have missed Kendrick Perkins' down low presence and his defense over these past few weeks since their blockbuster deal, which sent Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. In the final weeks of the regular season, it was much easier for the Celtics' opponents to control the pace of the games and harder in turn for the C's to score a lot of points. Fans are wondering if these struggles are because the Perkins trade was a bad deal or if the C's are losing games because of all of their injuries (especially to their big men).

Nenad Kristic (knee injury) and Troy Murphy (rolled ankle) are now healthy but were hurt at the end of the regular season forcing Boston's stars to play more minutes than Doc Rivers would have liked in the final weeks before the playoffs. That had taken its toll, and it has shown. The Celtics have finally received some good news in the form of Jermaine O'Neal's and Von Wafer's return. Jermaine O'Neal had been sidelined since January 12 as a result of his knee problems and his consequential knee surgery but returned for the playoffs.

Jermaine O'Neal's return to the hardwood has more than helped solve the Celtics' post problems and has gotten them back in the playoffs. Fans and coaches are very excited that this has occurred.

O'Neal was not happy with seeing the Celtics struggle and/or lose games and he was very excited and anxious to make his return. He has made that clear with his performances in the playoffs and by telling The Boston Globe, "I'm going to play tomorrow...We talked a little bit about me playing back-to-back games. Obviously, it's sensitive, but I told them the plan is to play back-to-back games, the plan is to play as many minutes as I can without limitation."

The Celtics can use all the help that they can get as they make their final push to to concur the Eastern Conference and eventually the NBA. Once Shaquille O'Neal, returns from their respective injuries, then and only then will we truly know just how good the Celtics really are and who the best team in the East is.

Jermaine O'Neal #7 Center-Forward

First Round BOS 2 2 21.5 0.778 0.000 0.000 2.5 1.0 3.5 0.5 0.0 3.0 1.0 4.5 7.0


Stay tuned for more on the Celtics pursuit of Banner 18 and other Celtics injury updates.

Must Reads:

Boston Celtics: 18 Reasons the Boston Celtics Win the 2011 NBA Championship

Boston Celtics: Chicago Bulls Seeing Red, Out for Celtics Blood

Boston Celtics: What's the Best Starting 5 Heading into the 2011 NBA Playoffs?

Boston Celtics: How Signing Troy Murphy Solidifies C's Title Shot

Boston Celtics: Trade Debate and 2011 NBA Playoff Analysis

Boston Celtics: Rajon Rondo Strong Side, Weak Side