May 1, 2011, 9:00 PM EDT
There are a number a number of things Boston is going to have to change if they plan to win this series against the Heat. Game 1 went very poorly for Boston. Changes have to start with execution issues, particularly on the defensive end, but there is a laundry list.
Something they could use is to get Shaquille O’Neal back on the floor. And it appears they will.
According to our man A. Sherrod Blakely at CSN New England, Doc Rivers said that Shaq couldn’t go in Game 1 but will soon.
“He’s getting very close,” Rivers said. “We actually had to make a decision (on whether he would play) today. So that’s better than what we’ve had to do in the past.”
Rivers added that O’Neal might play in Game 2 on Tuesday, and “for sure in Game 3.”
Shaq alone does not swing the series, but he does change some things.
Game 1 followed a regular pattern for the Heat this playoffs, Mike Bibby and Zydrunas Ilgauskas start and the game stays close (against Philly the Heat usually fell behind) then Joel Anthony and Mario Chalmers enter midway through the quarter and the Heat go on a run. While single-game +/- stats can be deceiving (and Anthony played a lot with James Jones to skew them in Game 1), the fact Anthony was a Heat-best +15 in Game 1 follows a playoffs trend.
One Shaq may well change. While Anthony brings energy and shot blocking, he is undersized at 6’9”. Shaq can push him around and score inside. Even now, even hobbled. Shaq can change the Anthony dynamic. It’s a tool Rivers can use.
And from the looks of Game 1, he’s going to need to use a lot of tools if the Celtics are to advance.
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