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Monday, March 1st, 2010 at 9:00 am  |  36 responses

Shaq’s Regular Season: Likely Over

by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

With seven weeks to go in the NBA’s regular season, you have likely seen the last of Shaquille O’Neal on the court until the Playoffs begin.

Shaq is set to have surgery to repair his sprained right thumb this morning in Baltimore, a procedure that normally requires a 6-9 week recovery period.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have the best record in the League, but they will have to adjust to playing without O’Neal, in their bid to have home court advantage throughout the postseason.

Even though the rest of their schedule is something of a cakewalk (in the remaining 22 games, Cleveland faces 9 teams that are currently below .500), head coach Mike Brown remains concerned.

The Plain Dealer reports:

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown acknowledged how much the team would miss O’Neal, whose contributions have gone far beyond his averages of 12 points and 6.7 rebounds in 53 games this season. “There have been plenty of games that he’s played for us where without him, we probably wouldn’t have won,” Brown said after Sunday’s practice before O’Neal’s surgery was announced.

“He has had an impact against the Lakers. He has had an impact against Orlando. He has had an impact against a lot of teams, especially when Mo [Williams] was out and Delonte [West] was out.

“We won 13 in a row and he was a big part of it. He allowed us to still be able to score buckets easily in the halfcourt.” Brown will start Anderson Varejao in O’Neal’s place and also use J.J. Hickson, Antawn Jamison and Leon Powe at center.

No need to feel for the Cavs, of course. Shaq was brought in almost solely to battle Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in the Playoffs. He’ll now get plenty of rest before he starts to really having to earn his paycheck.

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  • Ken

    They should be fine in terms of standings. As long as he comes back healthy by the second round of the playoffs, they should still make finals.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    Hmm … MELOMANNNNN … MVPPPPPP … ANNNTOONNNNNN …

  • LCD Screen Cleaner

    he probably wont be in game shape in time for the orlando series. it took him more than half a season to do it this year!

  • kh

    Surgery for a sprained thumb?

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Recovering Big Z should be a top priority now. I’ve heard that the Celtics have entered the Ilgauskas derby as well.

  • Justin

    I don’t think it matters who enteres the Ilgauskas derby. He’s going back to Cleveland even for less money than other teams might offer

  • neaorin

    This sucks, assuming no setbacks he’ll be back so late that conditioning will be an issue. Also, he’s played only one game where he started together with Jamison.

  • http://gmail dirty frank

    This really does suck for all the reasons mentioned already.
    kh – sometime’s they’ll surgically repair the ligaments.

  • SylVain

    The shaq lost is BIG. If you look at how the Cavs have been playing this year, they’ve been physical and thier frontline has been able to likes of Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett. With his lost, hmmm, dont know what to expect. Maybe a ISO 23 and watch Lebron play triathlon.

  • http://theurbangriot.com/ NUPE

    Hopefully the MB and the trainers will have Shaq running during practice to help him get into/maintain conditioning. Being out a couple of weeks won’t hurt his defense and sense he’s not a finese/skill player his ability to score near the basket isn’t much of a concern once he gets back. The only issue is will he gain 10 pounds and loose all his conditioning or not. Shaq being out will force MB to be more creative and run a faster offense which may be a nice additional option down the road to use from time to time. Also gives more minutes to Powe. A shaqless cavs is not the end of the world, but makes things a lot harder.

  • Jack Knife

    He’s no Kobe, that’s for sure.

  • peter

    surgery for a sprained thumb = the opposite of kobe playing with a broken finger

  • http://Slamadamonth.com Mvp23100

    Cavs 6-1 without shaq this year if its not an elite team clevelands playing it doesnt matter they have the mvp lebron james

  • http://claydefayette@yahoo.com CDef28

    Shaq just needs to go on the bike for about a couple hours a day up until the playoffs and he should be fine.

  • Yesse

    Damn this is messed up. I havent seen many sprained fingers getting surgery.

  • underdog

    Well the Cavs has depth, so the only remaining question is, if they will be the regular season champs, or not.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Kobe would have played through it.

  • T-Money

    Marquis Daniels and CJ Miles had surgeries for sprained thumbs this year too. I’m not saying that Kobe would not have played through it but there’s a difference between torn ligaments in the thumb vs other fingers. / I don’t care at all about Shaq adjusting back for the playoffs or the Cavs record without him (they’ll be fine). What I’m EXTREMELY worried about is his conditioning. I just hope they’ll have him on the treadmill for 2 months straight. As long as he is healthy and in shape for the ECF, Cavs are okay (they only need him for Orlando and LA). If not, they’re screwed.

  • Brickshooting J

    This lazy fat-ass dog has been skipping regular season games at the very least since he first arrived to the Lakers.

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    Whadda wimp……. j/k It will be a sad day when Shaq’s done for good.

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    His rest will have huge payoff in post season.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    This is all part of his strategy to come back at 400 pounds so Dwight won’t be able to move him.

  • Rob

    @Allenp Kobe would play even if he sprained both thumbs. Kobe is so tough we should start telling Kobe jokes instead of Chuck Norris jokes

  • http://theurbangriot.com/ NUPE

    I highly doubt Kobe or anybody else for that matter would play through a thumb injury this severe. The thumb is easily the most important digit on the hand that allow a player to palm a ball and control it on a shot. No other finger plays nearly as significant a role. I think it’s most important for the Cavs to have Shaq back for the playoffs and that IF there was an option for Shaq to just rest the thumb for a few weeks and then comeback sooner (without surgery), they still would have went with this option to best be prepared to play the important games where he’ll be heavily relied upon. If the exact same scenario was there for LBJ/Kobe/Melo, then I’d venture to say that they would opt to not operate and comeback sooner – not because of toughness – because their teams rely on them a lot more and the consequences of them missing this kind of time would be too extreme. If Shaq can manage to stay in shape and watch his weight, this ‘time-off’ may be great for the Cavs.

  • PJ

    the cavs are way way way better when shaq is not on the floor, this is a fact. they should be running and gunning and it baffles me that mike brown thinks they are better in a half court game when they have the best open court player in the league in lebron. stupid, i hope he comes back and ruins their playoffs so lebron comes to the bulls

  • doyouwantmore

    It seems like Shaq always gets some sort of nagging injury a month or two into the regular season with a plan to come back “just in time for the playoffs.” I know you don’t get surgery for something imaginary, but the Big Merc sure doesn’t go into the playoffs tired very often.

  • http://www.basketbrasil.com.br Rubens

    You guys knows that’s the thumb Shaq had pins on since 95, right? What real injury kobe had?

  • Jack Knife

    It’s the injuries to the smallest parts of his body that ruin shaq’s season. (Toe, now thumb)

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    James the Balla – I ain’t d!ck, keep my name out yo mouth

  • http://aol.com Run’N'Gun 219

    doyouwantmore- I WAS THINKING THE SAMETHING. THEY ARE JUST RESTING HIM UP FOR THE PLAYOFFS.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Kobe doesn’t need thumbs. He has trained his index fingers to do the thumbs’ job.

  • Jalepino Sausage

    Kobe this , Kobe that , I’d suk Kobe’s D!#k & Lick on Kobe’s Nutz. Kobe is my favourite colour Black-Mambastick. I’m not a Kobesexual ! !!!!!!! F@##itz !!!!!!!!!

  • Rob

    “The thumb is easily the most important digit on the hand that allow a player to palm a ball and control it on a shot.”
    He doesn’t really control the ball on a shot, if that was the case, Shaq would be able to do his Free throws. Shaq does need his right thumb to grab a burger. That’s the only important thing O’Neal can do with it.

  • Clas

    Shaq has all the time in the world to exercise those parts of his body that are not injured, so as a professonal i should be able to cope with this situation. Cavs need him against Dwight, eventhough that matchup might go in Howards favor, the word dominance will probably not be part of the gamestory. Here´s hoping O´Neal comes back asap and that LeBron dosn´t overstretch himself during the once great centers absence.

  • ClydeSays

    Since the Cavs will probably get Z back (it would be funny though, if he jumped ship), the Cavs just have to worry about getting Shaq back in some kind of game shape for a playoff run. Since he uses the regular season as training camp, that’s got to worry Brown & staff…

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