2011 NBA Playoffs: With or Without Shaq, Celtics Will Still Handle Knicks
In what looks to be the closest of the Eastern Conference 1st Round Playoff matchups, the No. 3 seed Boston Celtics are going to be without center Shaquille O’Neal when they host the sixth-seeded New York Knicks in Game One on Sunday.
Perhaps in any other matchup, the loss of O’Neal, who missed a total of 45 games already this season, might not seem like that big of a deal.
But going against a Knicks team that is playing better basketball, having won seven of its last nine to end the season, the Celtics are going to need all the minutes they can get from everyone.
In the interim, O’Neal is going to be replaced by the other O’Neal, Jermaine.
And it’s not like Jermaine is a walking bill of health either. Jermaine O’Neal missed 58 games total this year with a sore knee. Even when healthy, he’s not the player he once was with the Pacers, especially when you miss more than half the season.
The Knicks could steal Game 1 from the Celts, which could lead to some series momentum.
But in the end, all this is going to do is prolong the series and force it to go the distance.
And with the playoff veterans on Boston’s roster who aren’t injured, I still like the Celtics to take the series in seven games.
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