NBA Roundtable

Shaq Thumb Surgery

In General NBA on March 1, 2010 at 7:50 am

ESPN reports

Shaquille O’Neal’s regular season could be over. Now the Cavaliers hope the center they acquired for the postseason will be back in time for the playoffs.

O’Neal will undergo surgery Monday to repair his injured right thumb. He was examined Sunday by Dr. Thomas Graham at the National Hand Center in Baltimore. Graham will perform the surgery.

The Cavaliers said they will update a timeline for his return following the procedure, but a typical recovery period is 6 to 8 weeks. There are seven weeks left in the regular season.

Wow, that’s very bad news for the Cavs.

Even if Shaq comes back in time for the playoffs and is healthy and ready to go … the team won’t have had time to develop chemistry/understanding with him and Jamison on the court. Not offensively and more importantly not defensively.

This could make Cleveland a lot more vulnerable come playoff time.

Mike Brown

The only reason I wasn’t terrified of an O’Neal + Jamison big man partnership defensively was Mike Brown. I consider him the best defensive Head Coach in the league and have done so for several years now. He continually exceeds my expectations with what he’s able to achieve defensively with questionable defensive players. On any other team, I would be disgusted by Shaq + Jamison.

But … How in the world can he figure out how to improve + hide those two effectively when he has no time to teach + experiment? No games and no practices?

I don’t think he can and suddenly I’m very worried about the Cavaliers defense being good enough to get out of the Eastern Conference.

Parity At Top Of East?

The lack of time to develop quality chemistry could and likely will be very damaging for the Cavs.

I think this injury, even if Shaq comes back at a 100%, puts the Cavs right back in the mix with Orlando and Boston.

6-8 Weeks

It’s the start of March now so 6-8 weeks would have Shaq coming back either during or after the first round of the playoffs.

As long as Cleveland doesn’t get the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round, I think they’ll be able to survive a playoff series without Shaq. They may also be able to beat Atlanta in the second round but would be in a very difficult situation against the Magic or Celtics if Shaquille was still out or struggling to get back in game shape.

Good Read

Good article on Shaq’s injury and what it means for the Cavs.

Though the Cavs did not place any timetable on O’Neal’s return, injuries of this nature that require surgery typically take six to nine weeks to heal. In 1995, O’Neal suffered a torn ligament in the thumb that caused him to miss 22 games for the Orlando Magic. There are seven weeks remaining in the regular season.

Brown talks about Shaq’s value

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown acknowledged how much the team would miss O’Neal, whose contributions have gone far beyond his averages of 12 points and 6.7 rebounds in 53 games this season.

“There have been plenty of games that he’s played for us where without him, we probably wouldn’t have won,” Brown said after Sunday’s practice before O’Neal’s surgery was announced. “He has had an impact against the Lakers. He has had an impact against Orlando. He has had an impact against a lot of teams, especially when Mo [Williams] was out and Delonte [West] was out.

“We won 13 in a row and he was a big part of it. He allowed us to still be able to score buckets easily in the halfcourt.”

The big man rotation sans Shaq + Big Z

Brown will start Anderson Varejao in O’Neal’s place and also use J.J. Hickson, Antawn Jamison and Leon Powe at center.”It impacts everybody’s game when you don’t have a presence like Shaq around,” Brown said. “I think your team is different. He’s hard to replace on both ends of the floor.

“We don’t have a power inside presence that we’re able to come down and play the ball into. We’re going to try to spread teams out a little bit more and play a little more pick and roll after a little bit of movement, play some catch-and-shoot and post up our smalls a little bit more.”

  1. Appearently, Shaq has returned to light practices (April 1st – one month after the injury) but Mike Brown still isn’t sure he’ll be ready in time for the start of the playoffs

    Cavaliers center Shaquille O’Neal is getting closer to returning from a thumb injury.

    O’Neal took part in some of practice Thursday, although coach Mike Brown isn’t counting on him being back before the playoffs.

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