Oh goodie, another nickname to make up... Jolly Green Giant is fine,
but if people start coming to games dressed like this, well, screw the whole thing.
It's official: Shaq is a Celtic. Actually, when my dad first informed me that "The Celtics got O'Neal" a month ago, I thought he was talking about this one anyway. Now they have both. Together, they might make one good player.
It's funny how many people are asking "How much does Shaq have left in the tank?" when the real question is "How much does he even need to have?" On the Cavs, Shaq was a starter and hailed as a possible savior (Remember that Shaq Sports Illustrated cover asking Can he deliver the King a Ring?).
So now, a year later, Shaq's not good enough to:
>Contribute a solid scoring presence to the Celtics bench, which was notoriously inconsistent last year (Sorry, Rasheed, I loved how you played in game 7 of the finals, but a blind, syphillitic orangutan would have been jacked up for that game)?
>Be a backup center to the other O'Neal until...January or February, when Perkins returns? And the Celtics picked him up for minimum dough when it looked like they would be unable to pick up any more legit big man help? And they still somehow have Rasheed's contract as trade bait (or will 'sheed come back to loaf off until June?)....
>Anchor a second unit with an athletic point guard in Nate Robinson? These two guys could start on other teams - sure those teams are the Nets and the Timberwolves, but still.
This is - as they say - a coup.
Anyone thinking EITHER O'Neal can't significantly improve the Celtics' ability to compete is failing to remember one thing - Kendrick Perkins is not that good. Don't get me wrong. I love him. Works hard and is one of the few young guys on a team full of dusty, albeit incredibly talented, mummies.
He's a powerful defensive stopper, and...uhm...anyone? Anyone? Yup, that's it.
Perkins gets a pass on the rest of his game because of his defense, and that's fine, but let's not pretend either of the O'Neals has big shoes to fill. Perkins tends to get lumped in with the rest of the starters, a la Doc Rivers saying things like "This starting five, when healthy, has never lost a playoff series" (which still holds true, by the way), or an occasional sound-byte seeker muttering the phrase "Big Five" or "the best starting five." Such folks are being enormously generous to Perk.Both
O'Neals are a big offensive upgrade over Perkins. Perkins averaged 5.7 points and 6.2 rebounds in the playoffs last year, oh and anyone complaining that Shaq can't hit freethrows, Perk can't either (Sure, neither can the starting point guard - another huge issue - but I digress). Both
O'Neals can muster the occasional 20-point game. If Perkins did such a thing, the Mayans would consider it a sign of impending apocalypse.
The major issue for the Celtics was rebounding and a consistent scoring center. They just picked up two guys who can do some things just as well (rebound) and other things better (score) than the starter they already had in Perkins.
Sure, there are intangibles - injuries, locker room chemistry (this team seemed to absorb Nate Robinson's personality pretty well, but Shaq's personality is a Gulf oil spill next to Nate's)...oh, and does anyone believe the oil is really
all gone? Me neither. Speaking of which, Florida was so convinced things were going to be disastrous, they planned a uniquely aggressive marketing campaign for 2011.
Listen close for basketbawful's voice as narrator.Verdict:
This Celtics team came a few baskets from winning it all last year, doomed at the very end by rebounding deficits and defensive lapses. They just got better. It won't show in the regular season record, because Doc will manage minutes at the expense of victories, but it will in the playoffs, barring injuries.
Regardless of how the Celtics do, however, I hope we can all agree that watching the Heat go down in flames (pun intended) would be a sadistic joy to watch.
Labels: Shaq celtics kendrick perkins