Shaquille O’Neal practiced with Boston’s first unit for the second straight day. Doc Rivers said the plan was to start Jermaine O’Neal at center, but nothing was set in stone.
“I think just watching what [Shaq’s] doing, he doesn’t care [whether he starts],’’ Rivers said. “He just wants to play and help the team. He really wants to prove that he can play still, No. 1. And I think he just wants to win, and you can see that.’’
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Is Shaquille O’Neal really becoming The Big Unselfish?
Reports from Boston have the future Hall of Fame center switching in and out of the first and second units. Right now, he’s happy. Right now, he’s being a good teammate.
This can change. And fast.
Remember, these Celtics get stops. It’s who they are. Their defensive prowess – at home and on the road – gives them a chance in every game.
O’Neal has never been a committed defender. Even during the glory years with the L.A. Lakers, he was reluctant to guard the pick-and-roll.
Over the years, his pick-and-roll defense has gotten worse. Today, opponents run O’Neal through a steady diet of pick-and-roll sets to get easy hoops and draw cheap fouls on the big man.
Suppose O’Neal doesn’t improve his pick-and roll ‘D’. How long before coach Doc Rivers rotates in Glen Davis and/or Jermaine O’Neal? What happens when defensive star Kendrick Perkins returns from his knee injury?
Well, nobody knows exactly how minutes will be dispersed. However, Boston’s plethora of bigs will have to check their egos and put the team first.
This is where O’Neal could struggle. He’s always been the main attraction. Now he’s a supporting piece on a star-laden squad.
Being unselfish in October is easy. It’s much harder in May and June when you’re a former MVP and watching from the bench.
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