Will Shaq's injury have any bearing on the NBA playoffs?

March 03, 2010

Sure it will, mainly late
Ira Winderman

Sun Sentinel

You bet it will. It took the Cavaliers weeks to adjust to Shaq's unique stylings. Only in the injury absences of starting guards Mo Williams and Delonte West did Shaq truly flourish.

Now the Cavaliers will go to a different game, what some would contend is a more appealing game, with more of an open-court style that not only plays to the strengths of Williams and West, but to newcomer Antawn Jamison, as well.

The thought in Cleveland is the Cavaliers won't need O'Neal until at least the second round of the playoffs, when the opposition could be Boston's Kendrick Perkins, or in the East finals, when Orlando's Dwight Howard looms.

But changing the approach so late is a dangerous game to be playing with so much at stake.

iwinderman@tribune.com

James has Shaq's back
K.C. Johnson

Chicago Tribune

Here's why the Cavaliers' NBA title aspirations won't be derailed by The Diesel's thumb surgery: LeBron James won't let them lose in the early rounds and Shaquille O'Neal was acquired specifically to match up with Orlando's Dwight Howard and the Lakers' Pau Gasol.

Boston is aging, Atlanta isn't quite there yet so the Eastern Conference should come down to the Magic and Cavaliers. The conference finals don't start until after O'Neal is scheduled to return.

Conditioning won't be a huge issue. O'Neal can do as much stationary bike and pool work as he needs. And it's not like this is Shaq Fu from his younger days - all running and jumping and dunking. He just needs to bang, rebound, defend and defer to King James. He'll be healthy enough to do that when the time is right.

kcjohnson@tribune.com

Ring it up: No problem
Brian Schmitz

Orlando Sentinel

Shaq said he wanted to win a "Ring for the King," meaning LeBron James. Maybe his borrowed battle cry should be "One for the Thumb," meaning his.

Yeah, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers' slogan before they won a ring for a lonely fifth digit. But Shaq has four rings … and well, there you go.

The question is what impact his injury will have on the Cavs, the playoffs and the series, "Lost."

I'd say not much ... unless he comes back in eight weeks and looks like a contestant on the "Biggest Loser." LeBron can handle it until he gets back for the second round.

What's working in Shaq's favor, even at 38, is that playoff games are spread out unnaturally, thanks to TV, enabling him to rest.

bschmitz@tribune.com

Shapes up as no big deal
Broderick Turner

Los Angeles Times

What kind of shape will Shaquille O'Neal be in once he returns from having surgery on his right thumb?

How long will it take O'Neal to get back in shape when he does return from the injury that is expected to sideline the big center six to eight weeks?

O'Neal was just starting to get into NBA shape the last couple of weeks. Now he'll be out the rest of the regular season and won't be back with the Cavaliers until the playoffs, which start April 17. So he may not make it back until the second round.

But the main reason the Cavaliers acquired O'Neal was for him to matchup with Magic center Dwight Howard. The way things are shaping up, the Cavaliers and Magic wouldn't meet until the Eastern Conference finals in mid-May. By then, O'Neal should be back in pretty good shape.

baturner@tribune.com

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