center since Wilt Chamberlin, Shaquille O’Neal forces defenses to try
and stop him first, and the other 4 players second. Shaq stands
over 7 feet tall and weighs in around 330 lbs. There isn’t one center
in the NBA that can play him one on one and be successful
consistently. After Sunday night’s NBA finals game, two people
are wondering what happened to the big guy. There’s no doubt that
Maverick’s coach Avery Johnson had an awesome game plan for Shaq, but
it was nothing that he hadn’t seen before. The only team that
guards him one on one are the Pistons, because they have the best
defensive player in the NBA in Ben Wallace. Even Ben would tell
you that shutting down Shaquille when he doesn’t want to be stopped is
The big guy only played 33 minutes Sunday night versus the Mavericks,
but even he would tell you that they were not a very productive 33
minutes. Sunday night Shaq scored 5 points on 2 of 5 shooting
from the floor and 1 of 7 from the free throw line. Never before
in his entire NBA career has he scored so few points in a playoff
game. Taking it a step further, Shaquille usually dominates in
the NBA Finals. He is a 3-time finals MVP and has scored 40 plus points
5 times in the finals and has a 32 point finals scoring average, which
is third best behind Rick Barry and Michael Jordan.
The thing that confuses me about Sunday night’s game is that Shaq
touched the ball nearly every time the Heat got the ball in a half
court scenario. It was evident from the beginning that Pat Riley
wanted the offense to run through him. Each time Shaquille got
the ball, the Mavericks ran another defender at him to double
team. 99% percent of the players in the NBA should pass the ball
when double teamed, but that is not necessarily the case for
Shaq. He is big enough and fleet footed enough to maneuver over
and around double teams, he has had to do it his entire career.
Instead of trying to figure out a way to score he decided to pass the
ball back out each time with out even attempting to make a move.
The real problem for the Miami Heat was they didn’t knock down any open
shots that they received because of the double teams on Shaq. The
series is far from over, because Miami has yet to play their style of
basketball. Add to that, the Heat are a very good team at home
and have some of the best fans in the NBA. No team has come back
from being down 2-0 in an NBA finals series since 1985 when the NBA
went to the 2-3-2 format. In 2005, the Pistons came very close.
After being down 2–0 to the Spurs, they won the next 2 games at home to
tie the series. This series will live up to the hype as soon as
the Heat start playing up to their potential.