…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?