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Entries in Shaquille O'Neal (2)


Cavs-Celtics: Who's Saying What?

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo Carries
Boston To Game 4 Win

One Great Season

Less than 48 hours after the Cavs torched the Celtics in Boston, the Cleveland team that so many people thought was a strong contender to win an NBA championship assembled a performance Sunday that was at times as flat as its embarrassing Game 2 loss.

And just when you thought Rajon Rondo couldn't hurt the Cavs any more than he had in the first three games, the Celtics' point guard played out of his mind in a 97-87 win that tied the Eastern Conference semifinals at 2-2. Game 5 is Tuesday in Cleveland.

Rondo had 29 points, 18 assists and 13 rebounds in 47 minutes Sunday. Here are some other notes:

+ Antawn Jamison is not getting it done. His numbers aren't bad, but he rarely plays with passion. J.J. Hickson is more aggressive and was enjoying a fine second season in Cleveland until the Cavs picked up Jamison at the trading deadline, forcing Hickson to the bench.

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+ The Celtics are playing with more heart. Sure the series is tied, 2-2, and it looks like each team will win its next home game to set up a Game 7 in Cleveland next weekend, but Boston is just two years removed from an NBA championship and still has most of that nucleus in tact. The Big 3 certainly are collectively older and slower, but a Game 7 -- even on the road -- scares me because that Boston team is a proud one.

+ I give Danny Ferry credit for trying to put the proper pieces around LeBron James the last couple of years, but this hardly looks like Michael Jordan's first championship team with the Bulls. Jamison is no Scottie Pippen, Mo Williams is inconsistent and Shaq will need to give more than 21 minutes and six rebounds if Cleveland wants to advance.

+ Cavs coach Mike Brown should have given some other guys -- Ilgauskas, Moon, Powe, Gibson -- more minutes in Friday's Game 3 blowout.

+ The problem still in LeBron's game is his sometimes erratic play. Jordan seemed to cherish the basketball more. Even Kobe doesn't throw the ball away as much or take as many bad shots. But James does follow up sub-standard games with excellent ones, so expect some electricity in Cleveland on Tuesday. LBJ followed his three previous lowest-scoring outputs this postseason (24, 19, 24) with 40, 35 and 38, respectively. He scored only 22 today.

And here's what some people were saying on Twitter after the Boston victory:

@sportsguy33: "Triple-double for Rondo in 3 quarters. After this 2010 playoffs performance his nickname should be 'The Big One.'"

@SI_PeterKing: "Just home from seeing Rondo the Magnificent beat the Cavs. Careful now. I might have to reconsider my diffidence for the NBA."

@PDcavsinsider: "Terry Pluto and I keep asking Mike Brown how the Cavs could play with such lack of fire and he basically keeps saying 'I don't know.'"

@GESmithJr: "I hope Mo Williams' mother has a bad mother's day."

@MikeAmmo: "It's not an overreaction by Cavs fans when you visibly SEE the lack of effort/focus."

@JamilSmith: "You know how much I love the Cavaliers. But they played today like they had rollover points from Friday's deluge. Frustrating."

@MrTrpleDouble10: "Once paul pierce returns from carbonite hibernation things could get interesting."

@celtsfan33: "All I can say is HOLY COW. What a GREAT GAME by the CELTICS. All Rajon Rondo - all Passion!!"

@Adel_C: "Um...If Rondo had the confidence to launch threes, I don't even want to know how much of a nightmare it'd be for the opposition."

@jalenrose: "(Esp in the playoffs)Celts Rondo has become the most all around productive PG in the NBA! (pts/rebs/assts/defense/wins/title etc)"


Shaq's Injury Could Spell Trouble For Cavaliers

Shaquille O'Neal

One Great Season

It's been a long time since I thought Shaquille O'Neal was a key factor on a basketball team. I've never really been a big fan of his.

In my opinion, folks get their terms mixed up when describing Shaq as a great basketball player. He's certainly big and strong and physical, but far from great. Even in his prime, he was not great. Great to me means there's a certain amount of skill or talent involved, and though they are indeed assets, I hardly consider height, weight and strength among key skills for a basketball player.

Shaq is also a fairly insecure dude on a personal level. Think of the off-court drama he's created with others over the years. His rap song about Kobe Bryant in 2008? Are you serious? And now at age 37, he's crying that he deserves the "Superman" nickname more than Orlando's Dwight Howard? Ridiculous.

Shaq has never won an NBA title by himself. In Los Angeles, where the Lakers won three in a row, he had Kobe and they were coached by one of the greats, Phil Jackson. In Miami, he played alongside Dwyane Wade and together they were led by another great coach, Pat Riley.

Yet when Phoenix signed the aging bruiser in 2008, he said at his introductory press conference something to the effect of, "when people count me out, I have a habit of winning championships." Easy, big fella.

But with all that said, Shaq has been a nice addition to the Cleveland Cavaliers' lineup this season. I like that he's accepted his role as a lightly used starter. He seems comfortable with playing only 23 minutes per game, during which he's averaging 12 points and nearly seven rebounds, and is the Cavs' field-goal percentage leader (.566). I think coach Mike Brown is using him perfectly, not only with regard to Cleveland's individual game plans, but also in that he's keeping his legs fresh for a long season that Cavaliers' fans hope will take them into June.

That's why the thumb injury Shaq suffered at Boston Thursday night could be troublesome if he misses significant time. A couple weeks won't be a big deal, especially considering the way Cleveland rallied without him to not only beat Boston, but to blow the Celtics out. But if it's an extended period, that could affect Shaq's already suspect conditioning, and re-inserting him, say, a month from now, could disrupt any chemistry built with the acquisition of Antawn Jamison, who's still struggling with his new team.

Also, while General Manager Danny Ferry's move to get Jamison was considered a minor coup at the time, the Cavs could be in trouble as far as their bigs are concerned. Cleveland is expected to re-sign Zydrunas Ilgauskas on March 21, but I could very well see a team sign him before then, not out of need, but in a defensive attempt to keep the Cavs without a true big man who could bang with Howard in the playoffs, or even Andrew Bynum should the Cavs and Lakers reach the Finals.