As a life long Cavaliers fan I’ve seen my fair share of players that were said to be the one that was going to help the Cavs get to the next level. Most of the time though that next level was simply getting to the playoffs. However, when Danny Ferry went and signed Shaq he was not only trying to get the Cavs to the Championship he was doing it because of one player that could stand in there way- Dwight Howard. Howard ate the Cavs up in the Eastern Finals last year and Ferry knew something needed to be done. Enter the Big Diesel. Shaq obviously isn’t the same player he was a few years back, but he still takes up more space than any other player in the NBA and has an additional 6 fouls to give up when Howard is 2 ft. from the basket. Hopefully hard fouls. Sorry Z, but your attempts to stop Howard were just plain pathetic and both Andy and Ben Wallace were totally overmatched. Shaq also will force Howard to work harder at both ends of the floor. Let’s face it, having 350 lbs. on you would make anyone work harder.
Tonight’s game will be the first head to head meeting between the two and I expect Shaq to show a taste of why Ferry put so much faith in him. I’m not expecting 20 points out of the big guy, but I am looking to see where Howard starts his position on the low block. In last year’s Eastern finals it was about 3-4 ft. from the basket and a simple catch, turn, and dunk was all Howard needed to do. Tonight will hopefully be different when Shaq bodies him up in the paint. It’s going to be a great test to see where both teams are at this early in the season and what could ultimately be in store come playoff time. -DM