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Shaq's Debut

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tonight was Shaquille O'Neal's debut with my Phoenix Suns.

My initial thoughts after having seen most of the game.

While the Suns lost (more on that later), I saw some things I liked and some things that need work.

Top four things I liked

1. I was pleasantly surprised that Shaq looked like he was in better shape than I was expecting. As Shaq said, "I am in better shape than I thought I was."

2. There were stretches where you could almost see this working down the road - especially as the game wore on.

3. The Suns rebounding looked like it took a step forward. While I expected Shaq to get some boards, if tonight is any indicator, it looks like his presence will also help Amare Stoudamire get some more boards - and that is a good thing!!

4. Shaq's effort looked pretty good. He dove and ran and looked good.

Top four concerns

1. There were times Shaq looked lost on the plays - and that Nash also looked lost about what to do with/for the Big Guy. This is not unexpected considering this is the first game together, but with the West being as tight as it is, they need to get in sync sooner rather than later.

2. The Suns defense looked very bad at times. The blocks were nice, but the Suns have to stop the pick and roll and Shaq needs to be willing to come out of the paint to get guys like Gasol when they shoot shots from just beyond the elbow.

3. It looked at times like the rest of the Suns were trying to adjust to Shaq rather than the other way around. This is not what the Suns need to do if they want to win.

4. The Suns just dropped out of first in their division, L.A. has the tie-breaker for home court in the playoffs, and the Suns have a loosing record against the other playoff caliber teams in the West. That is not good. (Of course, you could also argue that this is one of the reasons why they needed to make the gamble of the Shaq trade in the first place.)

Anyway, those are my quick thoughts after the game.