Are the Boston Celtics in trouble without Shaq?

There is no question at this point in the NBA regular season that the Boston Celtics are arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference and maybe even in the entire league, but with about 20 games left before the NBA playoffs and the Chicago Bulls hot on their trail, Doc Rivers’ squad could be in danger of losing the top seed in the East.

One of the things that have made the Boston Celtics such a dominant team over the past few years has been their ability to play lockdown defense. Any team in this league that can play defense like the Celtics have been able to do consistently will have a legitimate shot to win an NBA title, but Boston’s defense has suffered a major blow recently with the blockbuster trade sending Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder and their injury problems with their big men.

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Doc Rivers

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Coming into this NBA regular season, the Boston Celtics were thought to have one of the best frontcourts in the league. With Kendrick Perkins still recovering from knee surgery, the Celtics went out and landed to big-name free agent centers in four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal and former All-Star Jermaine O’Neal.

Even though both of the O’Neals are without a doubt on the downside of their careers in the NBA and possibly on the verge of retirement in the next few years, they were thought to be perfect additions to a team that was in desperate need of size to compete with the likes of the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. With Shaq and Jermaine backing up Perkins, this team was going to be as tough to beat on the block as any in the league, but injuries and the recent trade of Perkins have really changed things for the Celtics.

Throughout his entire career in the NBA, Jermaine O’Neal has been injury prone and unable to stay healthy for the long haul. O’Neal may be a talented big man in this league with the ability to be a game changer at times, but he is by no means a dependable player.

Shaquille O’Neal on the other hand has been very dependable over the years and a solid contributor, even when regulated to a bench role with the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, the three-time NBA Finals MVP may have finally reached a plateau as he can no longer stay healthy for an extended part of time.

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As of right now, Shaq is suffering from an Achilles’ heel injury that will keep him out of the Boston Celtics lineup until he is 100% healthy. At this point in time, the Celtics are saying that Shaq is about 85% and still has a ways to go before he can get back on the floor.

This couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Boston Celtics as they will almost certainly need everyone healthy to finish out the final stretch of the NBA regular season and make a run in the playoffs. Without Kendrick Perkins, Jermaine O’Neal and Shaq, the Celtics could really struggle on defense and against bigger teams in the league moving forward.

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