UPDATE 10:57 am: According to Windhorst’s oracle-like twitter account, Shaq is out of surgery, and everything is fine. Except the part where he is out for eight weeks, but we knew that was coming.
3/1 8:28 am: Shaq had this to say on his twitter account Monday morning:
going into surgery today on my thumb, will be out for a min but when I return it is on, win da ring for da king! Luv my team, Cavs baby!
2/28 8:16 pm: The Cavaliers have announced that after seeing a specialist at the National Hand Institute (yes, that is a real place, I checked and everything), it has been determined that Shaquille O’Neal requires surgery on his severely sprained thumb, which will take place tomorrow.
Brian Windhorst, in typical Windhorst fashion, was the first on it via Twitter. The Cavs have not announced a timetable, but Windhorst cites that typical recovery time is 6-8 weeks, putting it squarely in the playoffs.
The question then, as Windhorst (again) notes, is his conditioning. Shaq’s not exactly known for his rigid diet and conditioning when he’s away from the game, and getting into playing shape is a rough gig mid-season, let alone the playoffs.
Just ask Jameer Nelson.
The Cavs have gotten Leon Powe back, and J.J. Hickson has come on remarkably strong. Throw in the acquisition of Antawn Jamison, which seems to improve every second he’s on the floor with the Cavs, and the Cavaliers will have no problem holding on to their six game lead in the East, barring an abject collapse combined with a Magic push of incredible proportions.
Shaq was brought in very specifically for a single purpose. Limit Dwight Howard in whatever way possible. As long as he’s back in time for a throwdown in the Eastern Conference Finals with the second-place Magic, this injury isn’t a mortal one to the Cavs’ title hopes.
Now all they have to do is get there, integrate Shaq back in after being off 6-8 weeks, and hope that’s enough to beat a Magic squad that has still seemed to provide matchup problems for them.