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Boston may be perfect fit for Shaq
The Big Load is about to become the Biggest Leprechaun ever. After successful tenures in Los Angeles and Miami, and ringless seasons in Orlando, Phoenix and Cleveland, the Celtics represent Shaq’s last legitimate chance for a return to glory.
How might the 38-year-old Shaq, who agreed to a two-year deal with the C's on Wednesday, influence Boston’s chances to usurp the Lakers? Let’s look at the possibilities:
- His mass and power clogs the lane on defense, and even in his dotage Shaq can provide much more offense than Kendrick Perkins, who is expected to be out until at least February following knee surgery.
- Shaq can be as effective as a huge chunk of kryptonite when it comes to debilitating Orlando’s bogus Superman.
- Unlike LeBron, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are not totally dependent on getting to the hoop to be effective. Rajon Rondo is an opportunistic driver who won't be negatively impacted by Shaq’s stolid presence in the low post.
- The Celtics rarely run, so Shaq won’t slow them down.
- He’ll be able to more than duplicate Perkins’ heavy-duty screens, which will be a boon to Allen.
- If Shaq is vulnerable when forced to defend high screen/rolls, the Celts are well-schooled in having weakside wings come to the rescue. Or at least this was the case when Tom Thibodeau was on the coaching staff.
- Shaq splitting time with Jermaine will theoretically keep both injury-prone O’Neals relatively fresh.
- Coming off the bench will prevent Shaq from being in constant foul trouble.
- Even if he can’t make his free throws, he can still force opposing bigs to accrue fouls.
- Because Shaq is still a dangerous dunk-back force on offense, opposing bigs can’t wander too far away from him in order to help on ball penetration.
- He has great hands, can’t be fronted, and is a can’t-miss target for entry passes. Starting offensive sequences with the ball in Shaq’s hands forces defenses to make adjustments (even if he doesn’t rate double-teams any more) and subsequently opens up all varieties of combo screens for Boston’s shooters.
- Shaq can be a detriment if he grouches about his diminished role, and if his buoyant, expansive personality messes up the team’s off-court chemistry.
- Because he’s slower off his feet than ever before, he’s not as good on defense as Perkins and can be abused by opponents who can turn, face and attack the rim. On the other hand, both of these guys are equivalent rebounders.
- Staying healthy is a serious concern.
On balance, Boston could prove to be a perfect fit for Shaq. But, more than any other consideration, it’s his attitude that will be the determining factor as to how well it works.
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