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Shaquille O’Neal Makes Bold Heat-Celtics Prediction, Backtracks Within Mere Seconds

Advait Jajodia

Shaquille O’Neal Makes Bold Heat-Celtics Prediction, Backtracks Within Mere Seconds

The final games of the play-in tournament took place tonight and the playoff brackets are now locked. With the shorthanded Miami Heat upsetting the Chicago Bulls, Erik Spoelstra’s boys have clinched the 8th seed for the second postseason in a row. With the Heat now set up to face the #1 Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, the Inside The NBA crew made their predictions ahead of the encounter. And when it was his turn, Shaquille O’Neal, who initially picked the Florida side, interestingly changed his allegiances to Jayson Tatum and Co rather quickly.

During the Inside The NBA broadcast, Ernie Johnson Jr. asked Shaquille O’Neal to make his pick between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. Without giving it much thought initially, the Los Angeles Lakers legend backed the Heat. However, he backtracked within a matter of seconds after learning about Jimmy Butler’s injury and changed his answer to the Celtics.

“Miami… Wait, when does Jimmy come back? [after hearing he will come back after a couple of weeks] Boston,” Shaq said.

Jimmy Butler suffered an injury during the first quarter of the 17th April clash against the Philadelphia 76ers. After the contest, reports revealed that despite Butler playing nearly 40 minutes on the night, he had hurt his MCL and would be out for “multiple weeks”.

As unfortunate as it may be, this means that there is a good chance that the star fails to appear in a single game in the series against the Celtics. And so, with the reigning Eastern Conference Finals MVP possibly out for the entire series, Shaq made the safer decision of selecting the Boston side to emerge victorious.

The Big Aristotle then revealed his predictions for the remaining three Eastern Conference series. Here, the four-time NBA champ surprisingly backed all of the “underdogs” to win the remaining matchups. Specifically, the 7-footer picked the #7 76ers over the #2 Knicks, the #6 Pacers defeating the #3 Bucks, and the #5 Magic progressing to the next round over the #4 Cavaliers.

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The Hall-Of-Famer also made his prediction for the Western Conference first-round series. This time he merely picked 2 out of the 4 lower seeded teams to win – the #7 Lakers to defeat the #2 Nuggets & the #5 Mavericks to defeat the #4 Clippers.

Historically, Shaq’s predictions haven’t been too accurate. Just a couple of hours before, Shaq went horribly wrong with his prediction. With Zion Williamson sidelined with injury, “Superman” picked the Sacramento Kings to win the clash in “double digits”. Instead, Brandon Ingram led the Pels to a 105-98 victory.

While fans of the teams that he picked will be concerned about the same, they will hope that O’Neal is right on this occasion.

Post Edited By:Tonoy Sengupta

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Advait Jajodia

Advait Jajodia


Advait Jajodia, a seasoned NBA journalist, has had a passion for the game for over a decade. His journey from admiring Kobe Bryant's precision to being in awe of Stephen Curry's long-range mastery instilled a profound understanding of basketball. With a background as a two-time National-level player, Advait uses his experience on the hardwood to offer insightful analysis. Over three years of dedicated sports journalism has equipped the 21-year-old with a unique perspective, reflected in his prolific portfolio of 3,700+ articles.

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