Shaq Would’ve Handled Celtics’ Shooting Woes Much Different Than Joe Mazzulla

'Shoot another three and I'm gonna punch you in your face'


May 30, 2023

Shaquille O’Neal and the rest of the NBA on TNT broadcast crew had a number of things to say about the Boston Celtics both during and after their 103-84 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday at TD Garden.

Nobody was more blunt than O’Neal, who couldn’t believe the Celtics opted to take 42 3-pointers compared to 40 two-point shots despite the fact they shot an abysmal 21.4% from beyond the arc in the winner-take-all contest. And that was after Boston shot a similar 20% from long range in Game 6.

“Listen, I’m not a shooter. I’ve played with a lot of great shooters,” O’Neal said, as seen on TNT’s postgame coverage. “And the reason why I say mix it up, this is what the great shooters I played with (did).

“When my team goes 0-for-10 in the first quarter, you know what I’m telling everybody? ‘Don’t shoot another three. Shoot another three and I’m gonna punch you in your face,'” O’Neal continued. “‘Let’s get the ball inside, let’s take high-percentage shots.’ No, seriously. This is a Game 7 closeout game. If my team is 0-for-10 in the first quarter, I’m going to the bench and saying, ‘Next person who shoot a three I’m going to punch you in the face.'”

Celtics fans might have felt similar to O’Neal while watching the Green chuck up trey after trey. It was Boston’s only source of offense, getting away from attacking the rim or penetrating Miami’s zone defense to create open looks. They settled time and time again while missing a few open attempts, too.

TNT colleague Charles Barkley also took a torch to the Celtics after the season-ending loss.

“They’re so undisciplined and unfundamentally sound,” Barkley said. “They win games strictly on talent. They don’t even run an offense. That’s what disappointed me the most.”

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla, however, doesn’t believe that’s an aspect of the game plan that needs to change. Malcolm Brogdon and other C’s players, though, seemingly wouldn’t agree.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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