The Return of Shaquille O'Neal will be key for the Boston Celtics against the Miami Heat in Game Three
Posted on Saturday, May 07, 2011 at 06:00 AM
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Shaquille O'Neal was possibly the greatest free agent signing of all time...in 1996, for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Shaq's arrival in Boston was just as highly heralded by Boston fans but this was more because of his legacy than what he offers on the basketball court these days. O'Neal was signed to fill in for the injured Kendrick Perkins, and be part of the team's rotation at center.
He did this adequately throughout the season before being injured in February. There is no doubting however that Shaq had his best years in LA as a Laker. The team expects him to return for tonight's crucial game three matchup with the Miami Heat in Boston.
They didn't think they would, but they are in need of the Shaq that played all those years ago in Los Angeles.
It would be a fitting end to the 39 year old's career. Who would have thought that maybe just maybe he could become the hero for the Boston Celtics, the Lakers longtime rivals, and propel them to what is likely to be the team's last finals opportunity with the original big three in tact.
Shaq has been a journey man since leaving the Lakers in 2004, but has been beloved in Boston this year. His quirkiness off the court and public antics with fans have made him a cult hero. This is a man that all Celtic fans would have once despised, and he despised them, for his ties with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It would be the perfect final chapter for the storybook career that Shaquille O'Neal has had during his 19 year NBA career. However it is also exactly what the team needs.
The Heat do not have a big man that can match up to O'Neal.
Joel Anthony is the team's best big man and he's not exactly big. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is the so called starter and he is a finesse big man that would have no hope in prevented Shaq in the low post.
The best man to defend Shaq would be Lebron James. Putting James in position to pick up more fouls, which he would do, is always a positive.
O'Neal will also make messers Dwayne Wade and James more hesitant when attacking the basket. Shaq has six hard fouls and when it's Shaq you know they are going to be hard.
The Celtics need to breathe new life into their offense and defense. Shaq certainly isn't new but he could bring them some life.
Game three throws in at 8pm Eastern and 1am GMT.
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