Apparently, the Phoenix Suns acquired Shaquille O’Neal from the Miami Heat because they had a picture of a veteran in their mind, a veteran that still had the ammo to shoot; something the rest of the NBA — myself included — couldn’t fathom.
He’s out of shape, isn’t in a physical state of condition to run in the Suns offense and is injured all the damn time. So what could Phoenix be seeing in this guy?
It’s obvious: the Phoenix Suns want to jump over the hump; they want to stop Tim Duncan in the playoffs.
But not so fast, Phoenix. Of course the halfcourt game comes into effect during the post season, and that’s why the Suns always crash and burn (and why they will never win a title with the bunch out there right now). They like to outscore opponents, sit back on defense and allow the other team to trade 3’s with them and hurry up and get the ball back to tread back down the court and knock down another shot. The Phoenix Suns, in that case, are like the good ol’ boys drinking whiskey on their back porch.
They want to provide a big body that can get after Tim Duncan and force him to get rid of the ball and coerce Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to add more plays than they already vicariously do.
However, there’s one big problem and that’s Shaq’s regressing defense. He hasn’t been the same defender he use to be in years. This is Tim Duncan’s win/win advantage here. Tim Duncan has some of this quickest feet in the NBA (you would know if you watched the Spurs play on average). He has a subtly swift movement when he takes his defender 5-feet to the basket for a quick one-handed hooking bank-in to get the ball to glide off the backboard and into the basket. He doesn’t need flash; just smart quickness of skill. Shaq can’t defend Duncan that way. It’s an indelible trait — in other words, Duncan’s movement compared to Shaq’s D is impeccable.
I said it last year and I’ll go back to my word this year. If the Suns and Spurs match up in the playoffs, the x-factor will — again — be Tony Parker. Tim Duncan has the biggest factor in the Spurs offense by drawing away defenders and deceiving them (cadence, baby), which frees up guys like Parker, Ginobili, [Bruce] Bowen, and sometimes [Fabricio] Oberto, but you would think the Suns will be aware of all this, considering they were ousted by the reigning NBA champs in 2005 and 2007.
Amare Stoudemire is 10-almost-11 years younger than Shaq. Even his youth and quickness alone can’t restrain Duncan’s clandestine offensive abilities. When he matches up with Stoudemire, he posts him up and drills a bank shot, or he goes to his left hand, crosses back to the right and floats up a shot right in front of the basket.
With that said, what happens now with the Hawks-Heat game from Dec. 19?
Atlanta “won” 117-111 in OT. The Heat protested when Shaq fouled out despite having only five fouls. The NBA upheld the protest, and the teams are to replay the game from the point where Shaq erroneously fouled out on March 8.
Since the protest was all about Shaq, does he suit up again for the Heat that day? Does the NBA let the original win stand now? Curious to see how the NBA handles that.