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After another abysmal fourth quarter collapse and ensuing loss to an inferior team last night against the Charlotte Bobcats, the ailing Celtics continue to show a lack of enthusiasm, hustle, and team chemistry as they draw closer to the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference standings. Like the second half of last season, they have dropped numerous close games to teams they should have stomped out. However, unlike last season, they have been dropping fourth quarter leads, and appear to be completely out of sync on offense, consistently failing to make the extra pass, and making careless passes when they do.


With all of this sloppy play and a troop of newcomer Celtics off the bench, the question of whether or not they will be able to “turn it on” in the playoffs like they did last year sticks out like Rondo’s sore pinky. With Perkins gone, and Boston’s paint presence currently looking weaker than ever since the acquisition of Kevin Garnett, Boston’s success in the playoffs is riding heavily upon a 39 year old Shaquille O’Neal.

Once Shaq returns to the lineup, this team will immediately improve. Earlier this season, before Perk had fully recovered from his injury, Shaq was playing phenomenal within the Celtics’ system, and his rejuvenated play was a big part of why Boston was able to jump out to first place in the Eastern Conference for majority of the season.

In the playoffs, you can expect similar things from Shaq, as he will likely bring the same energy and desire to win that he showed in the first couple months of this season. However, by playing like the Shaq of ten years ago, hustling on help defense and diving for loose balls, O’Neal’s health is a major concern.

While he has showed his commitment to winning, and impressed everyone in Boston with his inspired play, a lot of things will need to go right for Shaq to remain healthy throughout the postseason. Doc will need to rest him at any appropriate opportunity or large lead to avoid re-aggravating Shaq’s hip injury, yet the C’s will need him on the court in crunch time to stop tough big men such as Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah, and Andrew Bynum.

If Shaq can play, and do so without getting hurt, the team chemistry will start to come together again. Not only will all five of Boston’s all-star starters be back together like the beginning of this season, but the second unit will also become a scoring threat, especially if Von Wafer returns in time for the postseason. With West or Arroyo running the point, Wafer and Green on the wings, and Big Baby Davis down low with Krstic, Boston’s bench may not be quite as explosive as it was before the Perkins trade, but it will be able to effectively battle other second units around the league.

Shaq is supposed to return within the next week or so, and hopefully the Celtics can avoid falling further down the rankings as they finish off the last eleven games of the regular season. Come playoff time, the Celtics will need to hit the switch like they did one year ago, and the Big Five will need to come together like they did earlier this season. With the uninspired play the Celtics have shown over their last couple games, they will desperately need Shaq to be the difference maker this year.

Jon Jacobson 3/26/2011 12:57:00 PM Edit
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11 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    The other superman can save the team next season.

  2. Phil says:

    So, what you're saying is the Celtics chances comes down to whether Shaq can lead them through the playoff run. Shaq was supposed to be the icing on the cake, not the cake. I realize they needed help with all the injuries but in the NBA chemistry is HUGE and the Celts depend on it more than most. Krstic's playing very good but overall on offense their chemistry is just non-existent. Now we're HOPING for a Shaq led run? Ugh...

  3. DH says:

    I thought this article was going to be about Dwight Howard and whether he would come to Boston in free agency.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yes! We played so well with Shaq in the lineup. Although he's not as effective as he once was, he's still capable of finishing around the rim and he still draws a lot of attention. Hopefully he and JO will be back soon!

  5. JR says:

    Is it bad that I just saw a chick on the street in a walking boot and I immediately thought of this article and how our chances lie in size 30 boot of a 39 yr old 400 pound man?

    I still think JO might be the guy who comes up bigger in the playoffs.

  6. I wish all that talk before the season started about Shaq stepping into his role as a sixth man was coming true right now instead of Celtics' nation praying that Shaq can be healthy for the start of the postseason as the starting center.

    Hopefully both O'Neals can come up big. Jermaine has the ability to play some tough defense, but we will definitely still miss Perk. Things could be worse down low, considering we have both O'Neals and Krstic, who isn't playing amazing but is at least playing effectively within the Celtics' system. Believe it or not, Krstic led the team with a +17 plus/minus rating last night.

  7. JR says:

    Right now if the O'Neals combined can give us 24 mpg in the playoffs I'll be happy. Maybe even just 20. The thing is they have to give us SOMETHING.

  8. Danny says:

    We don't need a hero (Superman), though it would be nice, our front office gave away the keys to the kingdom to OKC. I think that that trade will haunt Boston longer than anything else. We're now banking on a couple of old,slow injury prone bigs. Why??? They aren't worth anything money-wise for trades? I'm still scratching my head on the J.O. deal, Shaq, can kinda understand. In a matter of 3months we have gone from a team that was defensively deep to scrapping and clawing just to pull off a win against a second rate team...why? Our chemistry went to OKC with our center.

  9. quis says:

    Hey guys we played all season without Perk. So I don't think his absence is why we are losing. I think they've ran out of gas. They also may be bored with the regular season. Playoffs will be completely different. Slower game, which will play to our advantage due to experience. JO & Shaq will play no matter what. They won't be non-factors. This team is just tired of talkin. Wait until its said and done.

  10. glitterchick says:

    You're kidding me right? Shaq was a bandaid until the return of Perk. He couldn't stay healthy long enough though. Ainge's cheap-ass ways are destroying the brotherhood of this team. Cut the dead weight at the end of the season and you'd have some more cash to keep a much needed member of the team. I agree with Doc. The issues are mental. They need to get it together SOON or they'll be having an early spring vacation.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I remember having these same feelings last year... that maybe thier time had passed... so let's see what happens in the playoffs. I really think that Perkins was the toughness that makes other teams change thier inside game which means if the outside shot is not dropping the opponent had not game... missing perkins

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