MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – While much was made of the return of Shaquille O’Neal to the Boston Celtics lineup in Games 3 and 4; Miami Heat fans may not have a chance to let him know what they think of him in Game 5 Wednesday night.
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said Shaq is not expected to play Wednesday night in Game 5 of the Heat vs. Celtics Eastern Conference semifinal.
In reality, Shaq hasn’t played much at all anyway. He’s played a total of 12 minutes in Game 3 and 4 and was noticeably limping at times in both games. In Game 4, he played about 3 minutes and had no points, no rebounds, and 2 fouls.
Rivers said Shaq’s calf got worse when he played, but didn’t completely rule the Diesel out; “I doubt it, but we’ll see,” Rivers said Wednesday.
Shaq missed 33 of Boston’s last 34 games of the regular season and missed the first six playoff games dealing with his calf injury.
For the Celtics, if they lose the series, there will be a lot of fans questioning why the team traded former center Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Jeff Green and kept the oft-injured Shaq.
It will only get worse for Celtics president Danny Ainge if the Thunder make it to the NBA Finals.
But there’s a bigger story developing as well. If Boston isn’t able to play Shaq again, it will possibly could be the end of a storied career.
Heat fans who love to hate Shaq now, were all too happy to take his services and run towards an NBA Championship.
O’Neal has played for the Heat, Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns, and the Orlando Magic. He’s started all but 10 of 1207 games he’s played in his career.
The Diesel has averaged 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game throughout his 18 year career. He has a career line in the playoffs of: 24.3 points per game, 11.6 rebounds per game, and 2.1 blocks per game.
He’ll be remembered as much for his mouth as his play throughout the years. Early on in his career, Shaq showed little grasp of anything. He was asked one year after the Magic played in Greece if he visited the Parthenon. He responded saying he visited so many clubs, he didn’t remember if he visited that one.
Another area Shaq will be known for is his lack of prowess from the free throw line. For his career, he has shot 53 percent from the line. It prompted several teams to employ a “hack a Shaq” theory to neutralize him during games.
Whether you loved him or hated him, he was often larger than life in the NBA. If he has truly played his last games, it will leave a big void in the NBA, literally and figuratively.