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In a busy and disappointing time for the Boston Celtics, Chris Forsberg reports that, if you can believe it, Shaquille O’Neal will play for game 3 of the series against the Miami Heat, barring any setbacks.
Obviously, this can’t be read into too deeply. However, head coach Doc Rivers sounded especially optimistic about it, even though it seems this story has been lingering around for a lifetime.
“Everybody’s good,” said Rivers. “Everybody is feeling pretty good. Shaq went through practice … we just watched film and walked over some stuff, and then, the second unit [not including O'Neal] worked on their stuff. Right now, we expect every single guy, including Shaq, to play [in Game 3].”
The Celtics could use some defense, and Shaq would be an ideal guy to give it to them. He has a favorable matchup against a Miami team lacking a dominating big man. Boston has looked sluggish in the first two games in the best-of-seven series against Miami, losing both games. O’Neal could be the defensive spark they need, but he has to be productive quick. There is no time to “ease back into the rotation”, as one more loss puts Boston just a single game away from watching the rest of the playoffs at home.
Shaq has always liked playing the hero, the Superman for the city he plays for. The Celtics need him, and they need him now. It’s likely nobody would have guessed, but Boston’s season could very well depend on it.