Shaquille O’Neal has not only been playing like his old self lately, after his Cavaliers beat the Magic Monday, he was talking like his old self as well.
And Shaq went off on Dwight Howard and the fact the Magic chose to double team him. Starting by saying “Superman my ass.”
“When I was coming up and there was Pat Ewing and Hakeem (Olajuwon) and I never doubled anybody. You tell me who the real Superman is. Don’t compare me to nobody. I’d rather not me mentioned, I’m offended.”
“Don’t let them double team me and make it a him vs. me thing. 18 years straight: Hakeem, (Pat) Ewing, Rik Smits, (Tim) Duncan, (David) Robinson, the best of the best, straight up. I never doubled nobody. Nor have I ever asked for double team.”
Shaq learned a few things from Phil Jackson back in the day — his “off the cuff” remarks often have a subtext and goal.
Even with what’s left of Shaq, he is hard to cover one-on-one — he is too big, too strong, too savvy in getting off his shots to really stop if he gets the ball deep on the block. But he can’t beat the double team like he once did. The Magic’s system took him largely out of the game — he had 10 points, six rebounds and sat out a lot with foul trouble.
So Shaq challenges Howard’s manhood, tries to goad him into single coverage for the next meeting. Because as good a defender as Howard is, Shaq can do some damage one-on-one. Shaq was trying to set up the two meetings left between these teams, and more importantly the playoff meetings down the line.
Joel Embiid on Monday will have an MRI on his injured left knee and is now listed as out indefinitely.
Embiid has been experiencing swelling and soreness in the left knee injury that has caused him to miss 16 out of the last 17 games. Bryan Colangelo announced back on Feb. 11 that Embiid has a minor meniscal tear. In his most recent press conference last Friday, Colangelo had targeted this Friday’s home game against the Knicks as a possibility for Embiid’s return. Now, that isn’t the case.
Embiid had been the biggest ray of hope for Philadelphia, but the 76ers shouldn’t chase watchability down the stretch. Sit Embiid until he’s fully healthy and secure the best draft position possible.
Maybe Embiid’s body just can’t handle the rigors of NBA basketball, but Philadelphia has no choice but to hope for the best with him and Simmons. And hope the nail the their first-round pick this year and get the Lakers’ first-rounder.
This could still be a dangerously good team in coming years. The Process created that potential.
But the threat of injury always looms around the corner, maybe especially so for Embiid.
Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah likely to miss rest of season after knee surgery
Prepare for the talk next fall about Noah feeling refreshed and ready to help the Knicks.
But this surgery won’t reverse the underlying problem: Noah is a 31-year-old big man with heavy mileage. He can manage his knees, but it’s probably too late for him to regain enough athleticism to reliably contribute.
Just three years and $55 million+ remaining on his contract, which already looked like the NBA’s worst deal and is now even more unfavorable.
Buddy Hield: Vivek Ranadive told me at Kings-Pelicans games, ‘We’re still going to get you’