Heading into the NBA Finals....the story leading in was that "Shaq is Back!". Yeah, Shaq did have a darn good Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons. Especially in the clinching Game 6 while his "sidekick" D-Wade was a tad bit ill.
So far in the Finals....Shaq still is the story.
Just not one that Mr. O'Neal likes.
After Game 1, the talk was about his FT shooting. He clanged 1 out of the 9 he attempted.....and missed two others that were waved off after the Mavericks committed lane infractions. He also committed a big turnover [fumbling a ball under the basket and then committing an "offensive" loose ball foul].
After Game 2, the talk will be about his career playoff low FIVE POINTS. Yeah, the Most Dominant Ever scored 5 points in an NBA Finals game. A game that the Heat came in determined to feed the big fella. A game the Heat wanted badly to win....since teams down 0-2 in the NBA Finals have won just 2 of 27 previous series. And Shaq went 1-for-7 in this game....and had another miss waved off by a lane violation.
How amazing is that?? Before this series started, Shaq averaged over 30 points and 10 boards in his NBA Finals history. And that history is a nice sized 24 games....not just one series or two series......five Finals and 24 games. It's two games into this thing, and Shaq's totals are 22 points and 13 rebounds. He is shooting 2-for-16 from the free throw line and only attempted 5 shots in Game 2.
It's probably Kobe Bryant's fault.
To be honest, he really attempted more than 5 shots. But only five count in the box score. Whenever Shaq has the ball around the basket, the Mavs are fouling him and sending him to the line. Why give up a dunk when you can sent a 2-for-16 free throw shooter to the line??? Personally, I think that his horrible FT shooting is affecting his game as a whole. He hasn't been aggressive at all with his shot because he knows that the Mavs are gonna foul him. And he knows he isn't gonna hit the freebies.
Plus, the Heat made their late game run while Shaq was on the bench. While Shaq was on the floor, the Mavericks built a 27-pt lead. He left, and the Heat shaved it down to around 12 with about 2 minutes left. Shaq sat the final 15 minutes of the game.
Shaquille "I hit 'em when they count" O'Neal's free throw shooting has been so bad that his teammates stopped looking for him. Shaq "The Big Quotation" O'Neal bolted without speaking to reporters....costing him a $10,000 fine and the Heat a $25,000 fine. Mr "Erik Dampier Should Be In The WNBA" O'Neal is being outplayed by Mr. Damp. Dampier outscored him [6-5], outrebounded him [13-6], outblocked him [1-0] and outstole him [1-0]. And Shaquille "The Big Kickout" O'Neal had only two assists....so don't give me that "he was finding his teammates" nonsense.
And Pat "I Have More Playoff Wins Than Avery Johnson Has Ever Coached" Riley can't seem to find a way to get this team going. In this series, the guy in his 9th Finals appearance is watching his team hang it's head and play flat and uninspired while the guy in his first full season as coach has devised a gameplan to make The Most Dominant Ever a non-factor.
Sure, Shaq isn't the same guy who won three Finals MVPs with the Lakers. But he was an All NBA Player this season....so 5 pts has no excuse.
Too bad Shaq didn't stick around to give us one.