Of course, Boston believed it would be able to manage with Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal on the roster, while adding a young perimeter defender in Green.
Instead, the move seems to have backfired. Shaq strained his calf in his first action in over two months. This is not a good sign considering the Celtics are counting on his presence come playoff time.
Take into account that he is 39, and despite reports from the media that he is in “great shape” it is clear that Shaq is old, slow and overweight. Besides, the same reports have been made about Shaq for the past 5 years and he has always proved to be sub-par at best. While he still might be able to score from the post, I believe the game is going to be too fast for him when he returns.
It is almost impossible to think that he will be able to keep up with the speed of the game after missing nearly the entire second half of the regular season. He simply is too old to “turn it on” at this stage of his career.
This was made apparent against Detroit last week, playing only 5 minutes and 29 seconds before succumbing to an injury to his right calf. Given his recent history, this is a bad omen for Shaq.
Even Udonis Haslem, who is trying desperately to return to the Miami Heat by season’s end will surely face similar struggles. But Haslem is not pushing 400 pounds and at the end of his career.
Shaq simply will not be able to be the type of presence Perkins was in terms of preventing the Heat from scoring in the painted are, and neither will Jermaine O’Neal for that matter.
Scoring just got a little easier for the Heat, who can now attack the paint, getting Boston in foul trouble and getting to the free throw line. Something that Wade, James and Bosh are all elite at.
It will also be difficult for Shaq to defend any pick-and-roll Miami runs at him, as he does not move well. That can make things very tough on Boston, especially when considering that James and Wade are two of the most explosive players in the NBA going to the basket off of screens and finishing.
It will certainly be interesting to see what lineups Doc Rivers uses against the Heat in their game this Sunday. Shaq will likely sit out, which means the Celtics may go with a smaller line up for some stretches. Dangerous when factoring in how good the Heat have been this year when running Bosh at center and James at power forward.
With or without Shaq, the Celtics are still worse than they were at the beginning of the season because they no longer have Kendrick Perkins. Sunday will be the first time the Heat have played the Celtics since trading away Perkins.