When the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Shaquille O’Neal got injured against Boston during the last meeting between the two teams, it changed the entire course of the game. In a bad way for Boston.
Anderson Varejao subbed in and played absolutely out of his mind. He was as active as Tiger Woods’ sex life, cutting for open looks, crashing the boards with ferocity, and flopping like a young Vlade Divac. He played so well that night, and added such a new dimension of athleticism and speed in the frontcourt for Cleveland, that Kendrick Perkins stated what seems like the obvious: (WEEI)
“In my opinion, I think they’re better [without Shaq],” he said after practice on Saturday. “They can run more, you’ve got Anderson Varejao who’s more of an active body, he gets LeBron open a lot, opens up the paint for him, so I think they’re a better team. I mean obviously Shaq could help them, but I think they’re a better, more fast-paced team.”
Perkins makes a valid point. Including the game against Boston, the Cavs have played eight games since O’Neal’s injury. They are now 7-1, with the only loss coming while playing without Lebron James against a hot Milwaukee team. Without Shaq, they’re more versatile, and sometimes even toss out a lineup with Lebron at the four that’s virtually unstoppable.
Of course, a few games before Shaq was injured, the Cavs had a 13-game winning streak. Maybe they’re just really, really good, whether the Diesel plays or not.