Post-game Reactions

…or should I say “Fors-cast”?  Our friend Chris Forsberg over at ESPN Boston has been collaborating with the local blog writer’s to come up with some answers to this offseason’s most poignant questions.

Brian Robb has already prognosticated the Celtics total number of wins, the East’s playoff seeding, and how the season ends for the C’s.   Yesterday, BRobb lent his expertise to the starting center conundrum:

“This topic shouldn’t even be a debate. The Celtics pride themselves on their defense, and, at this stage of his career, Shaquille O’Neal is a flat-out defensive liability on the perimeter. You don’t get to start for the Celtics when Doc Rivers is trying to figure out how to account for your lack of mobility within the team’s defensive scheme. On the other hand, Jermaine O’Neal is no world beater, but he can still hold his own on the defensive edge at this stage of his career, and he is a capable shot blocker. Offensively, both guys are upgrades over Perkins, but Jermaine’s shooting ability also plays into the Celtics’ offensive goal of keeping the floor spread. Put it all together and Jermaine O’Neal is the guy in the middle on opening night.”

Of course BRobb is right.  Jermaine O’Neal should start for the Boston Celtics to start the season.  The rest of the local experts did not completely agree.  The voting broke down like this:

Jermaine O’Neal: 14 votes

Shaquille O’Neal: 4 votes

Chris Forsberg perhaps provided the single best argument in favor of starting Shaq:

“The Celtics will ultimately decide to mask Shaq’s defensive deficiencies by starting him alongside Kevin Garnett, and an accompanying benefit is immediately integrating Jermaine O’Neal into the second-unit role he’ll occupy after Perkins returns in the new calendar year.”

It would be nice to have Jermaine fully integrated into his new role when Kendrick Perkins returns from the horrific knee injury he sustained in Game 6 of the Finals.  That said, just like with all horrific knee injuries there is no guarantee that Perkins will come back at all let alone be effective when/if he does.

We posed this question to you guys out there in Celtics Fan Land and most of you said Shaq.  After reading the reasoning, have any of you changed your mind?

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  • CsFanInArkansas

    It seems to me that if you’re just talking Shaq vs JO, I’d rather have JO in the starting lineup (more offense, more mobility, probably similar defensive presence)…but when you think about the 4-5 combos, I kinda favor a KG-Shaq and BBD-JO situation. I’m sure we’ll see several different looks throughout the year…and maybe Gody and Erden surprise everybody and make it even more of a headache for Doc and Co to manage…but that’d be a fine problem to have as long as the players keep their attitudes in check.

    If Shaq started and managed to cause problems for other teams starting bigs (foul trouble or just the mental game), it might be a good move. I just see him as being more of a force/obstacle in the paint than I do JO.

    I can’t wait for the season to start…

  • tk

    i think that our starting centershould be no sure thing for the entire season. we should start either shaq or JO situationally. like if we face a strong center like dwight i think shaq should start or should we face atlanta they have a much more mobile, finesse center in al horford so it would be better for JO to start in that case.

    having too many options is never a bad thing, mike brown had this same “problem” last year after jamison was brought on board and big z came back but he couldnt handle it and make the right decisions at the right time. we know for a fact doc will be able to.

    the starting center shouldnt be a debate at all it should all be based on who were going up against that night. the only thing is that everyone has to accept their minutes and their roles and no egos allowed

  • Sophomore

    It’s not 2002, or even 2005. It’s got to be JO over Shaq.

    If JO can show that last year’s playoff disappearance was caused by injury, he may even stay in that spot after Perk returns. On the other hand, maybe the playoffs were the reality, in which case he needs to be on the 2d string.

  • TheRev72

    I think Doc will use Shaq similar to the way Cleveland used him. That is, Shaq will start and get the ball early and often, scoring inside and/or drawing fouls. But he will not play heavy minutes. I think you can expect to see him play the first 8-10 minutes of each half, with JO and Big Baby subbing in at that time for Shaq and Garnett. When Garnett returns midway throught the 2nd/4th quarters, Shaq will stay on the bench and JO will finish out the half.

    This is the best situation for various reasons. First, Shaq needs to be on the floor with Garnett so Garnett can cover for him defensively. Second, Shaq can draw early fouls, which will put the team into the penalty quicker, which is important since the team can go through serious scoring droughts. Third, you don’t want Shaq in at the end of games, obviously, due to his historically bad FT shooting. And finally, JO is a better pairing with Big Baby for the minutes Baby plays. A Shaq/Big Baby pairing could be disasterous defensively.

    I’m pessimistic about Perk’s return next year, and think he’d be better off sitting out the year to fully heal. Thus, I think, barring injury, the O’Neal are the Center tandem for next year. The team should offer Perk a reasonable extension now, rest him, and get him ready for the post-lockout future where he and Rondo will solidify the PG/C positions, and Danny will have to work his magic to round out the rest of the roster.

  • Jeff

    I think Doc should reserve the right to change the lineup on any given night depending upon who they are playing.

    Everyone on this team has to understand, and it should be made perfectly clear before the start of the season otherwise we’re in for a wild ride, that they are a piece of this team, and will be treated as such.

    No one is above the team or coach. You play your role, or find a new team to play on.

    As for the starter on opening day, I say Shaq. For that game, he can start the game with KG. He’ll be able to pound MIA inside and force them into foul trouble. Then after about 8 or so minutes you put in Jermaine for the rest of the quarter and most of the second. Then Shaq can get about 5 minutes in the 3rd, and then a short stint in the 4th before pulling him because of his bad FT’s.

    I’d say starting Shaq would be the better option because you could “Start” him with KG but that doesn’t mean he’s going to play starters minutes anyways. Those will go to JO.

    JO – 25-30 minutes a night
    Shaq – 18-22 minutes a night

    They should start Shaq, but JO should play more minutes.

  • NHBluesMan

    i agree with Jeff. Doc is smart, he’ll play the starting line-up that will be best matched up against our opponents. Shaq will probably start against Orlando, maybe Miami, LA, and possibly the Bucks, based on them having large centers to contend with (and Miami not having good centers, so Shaq can pound them), but then we start J.O. against teams with quicker centers. Even when Shaq starts, we don’t need alot of minutes. Have him draw 2 or 3 on Dwight and Bynum and then once their coaches are forced to sit them with foul trouble, we put in J.O. to rest Shaq for later.

    Any other coach, i’d be worried with this many options, but Doc is smart, and he knows how to manage minutes. I feel really good about this year knowing he’s back at the wheel

  • I love Green

    Still JO. Him and KG will spread the floor great, and Rondo will run wild.

  • sam

    Shaq is much better suited for the bench. He’s still a very high usage offensive player and I’d be a lot happier if he was taking shots away from Baby rather than the big 3.

    Further his plus rebounding is of much greater use of the bench when paired with our weakest rebounders.

    Finally his defense will be much easier to hide against back-up guards.

    JO isn’t a great fit with the starters (mediocre rebounder, somewhat duplicative of KG in skillset), but he’ll be great alongside Shaq when/if Perk returns.

  • yoki

    it does not matter who starts, it’s who finishes. JO should be finishing games because of his good free throw shooting.

    other than that, like someone above just said, use it situationally. Fast team, JO starts. Half Court team, Shaq starts. This should not be a problem for Doc.

  • Perry

    It would be pretty easy to buck consensus based on Shaq’s deficiencies. Starting him alongside Kevin makes sense, but he”ll go into camp as the backup. Celts might just have something unique in bringing him off the bench. Davis and Quis are good enough cutters for Shaq to get them easy shots. You just know opponents’ second units will be doubling him. The 300 lb elephant in the living room won’t go unnoticed.

    Especially liked his professionalism when asked about coming off the bench … Which doesn’t seem to bother him a bit.

    …it”s an experiment worth pursuing

  • Sal Greco

    off topic and a stretch….. does this jamal crawford wanting a trade anyway effect the c’s? say in maybe trading for him? highly unlikely but just an idea

  • Jon

    Hey lets trade anything for Jamal…ANYTHING…. if at all possible

  • Devon

    I can hear Zach screaming nooooooooooooooooooo all the way over here in Chicago about the Jamal Crawford idea. Hey, I have an idea… Let’s be happy with the team that was 4 minutes away from the trophy. It just feels more realistic.

  • At first I had thought Shaq should start, but the more I think about it the more I lean towards JO. For one thing, I think JO will have an easier time switching from starting to the bench in mid-season, I think Shaq would benefit greatly from playing the whole season in the role he was brought here for.

    Also, I think it might be best to have our best defensive lineup matched with other teams’ starters. One way to hide Shaq’s defensive weakness is to play him with great defenders, but another way is to have him defending less talented bench players.

  • Donaldtower

    The thing is who starts against Miami…lets give Shaq the shot to give a show

  • Shaq is only gonna get 15-20 tops a night. JO should start because it gives us better offense and defense to start the game off right. That was a huge weakness in our games last season was falling behind early. Veteran teams expending extra energy to come back or hold off a close game exhausts too much energy and tAkes us out of the next game too. Shaq should be One of the first subs in with Von Wafer and daniels and Nate. Shaq will be able to score in the post on any bench squad. We can easily run the offense through shaq when quality shots get tough to find. Run some pics for Nate post shaq. Run some cutters like quizy, spot up wafer, crash the boards with davis. Sounds so sime I know….it’s really not bt that’s what all those guys do well. It fits. Shaq will allways be a defensive liability. I don’t care who you pair him with…kg or no kg. I think he will fit better with a pg that can shoot(Nate) than rondo. Defenses will just sag on shaq with rondo in. Nate can shoot and isn’t scared to take open j’s. I’m sure doc will find some good lineups during cAmp.

  • Seths

    J O’ Neal is the way to go its that simple he spreads and can still play some D shaq is and slow. its gonna be hard trying to mask that. I mean it was obvious watching in the playoffs last year hopefully he does big for us though

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    Doc will just juggle based on matchups. JO & KG should close games though. Thats a great crunchtime frontcourt.

  • You’ve mnagead a first class post