Shaquille O’Neal Upset With Playing Time?
Despite a stellar performance through the first 3 quarters, Shaq barely saw the floor in the 4th quarter in Boston yesterday, and there were indications that he was less than pleased. Teammate LeBron James was also surprised by the coaching staff’s decision to keep the big fella on the bench: “Shaquille O’Neal played his best playoff game yet in a Cavaliers uniform and finally looks as if he’s finding his rhythm after nine postseason games. He scored 17 points, pulled in six rebounds and blocked two shots in Game 4 against the Boston Celtics on Sunday. He also barely played in the fourth quarter after getting his fifth foul with 11:11 left in the game. From that point on, the Cavs didn’t play the same, as an emboldened Celtics team went on an 8-0 run immediately after his removal from the game. But why didn’t he return? ‘Shaq played extremely well and I think it’s kind of surprising that we didn’t see him back on the floor the entire fourth quarter,’ LeBron James said after the 97-87 loss. Indeed, O’Neal proved effective offensively, but in other ways, as well. Early in the game, he was responsible for drawing fouls from Celtics defenders, a fact that put them in trouble and put him at the line 11 times in the game. But his absence in the fourth gave point guard Rajon Rondo, who was already having a game that will be emblazoned in Celtics lore, the space he needed to continue his torrid pace. With the middle freed up, the Celtics became much more active.”