Some numbers people at ESPN took a look at the difference Shaq made this year for the Celtics when they played against the Heat. His impact was... Crazy good! Since he's supposed to play tomorrow, and it's a must win situation, it's pretty exciting. Chris Forsberg presented the results:
With Shaq on the court in the regular season against the Heat, the Celtics averaged 121.1 points per 100 possessions, a stunning 26.2 points per 100 possessions improvement from when Shaq was off the court.
Boston shot a tremendous 54.1 percent from the field against Miami this season with Shaq on the court. That fell to 45.5 percent with Shaq off the court.
Some of the Celtics that saw the biggest differences were Rajon Rondo, who shot 34.5 percent from the field with Shaq off the court and 50 percent with Shaq on the court, and Ray Allen, who shot 50 percent with Shaq off the court and 68.8 percent with Shaq on the court.
The five current Boston players that played with Shaq against Miami all felt huge impacts. With Shaq on the court, each saw a meaningful elevation in the team's offensive rating (points per 100 possessions).
Oh, AND the numbers show that the Big Shamrocks presence greatly benefited the percent of assists on made field goals and upped Boston's offensive rebounding statistics (him being on the floor provided them with a 17 percent increase in the number of offensive boards they pulled down). The team was more offensively fluid with the Big Shamrock suited up. KG had a +13.3, which is the lowest number- but Rondo and Ray Allen, both of whom need to be greatly involved in making this a series, saw improvements of +24.4 and +25.5 respectively. Yes, please.
Chris Forsberg also provided the efficiency of Shaq on the defensive end, and those results are just as great:
Miami felt Shaq's impact as well. The Heat had a net offensive rating of +8 when Shaq was off the court. However, the Heat had a net rating of -28.3 when Shaq was on the court.
Miami's shots were about a foot and a half closer when Shaq was out of the game. The average distance of a Heat attempt with Shaq on the court was 15.1 feet. With Shaq off the court, the average distance of an attempt was 13.4 feet (1.7 feet closer).
Effectively, Shaq helped neutralize Joel Anthony. In the 15 minutes that Shaq and Anthony played head-to-head in the regular season, Anthony's plus/minus took a major hit (-17). That means the that the Celtics outscored the Heat by more than a point per minute with Shaq and Anthony on the court at the same time.
Considering that Anthony currently has the best plus/minus in the 2011 postseason at +91, including +20 in the conference semifinals against the Celtics, Shaq's ability to play becomes that much more significant.
These numbers are all undoubtedly really exciting... But I'm going to try and reign in my optimism because we don't know what Shaq will be able to give. He hasn't played in months, and is nowhere close to 100 percent. That's not to say I'm a Debbie Downer. I'm rooting for Shaq 500 percent and I do hold out hope that he will make a solid impact! (P.S., if you don't know what offensive rating means, you can read about it here).