Shaq Talks Heat’s Chances After Blockbuster Nets/Sixers Trade [EXCLUSIVE]

Shaq

Getty Shaquille O'Neal attends Shaq’s Fun House presented by FTX at Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on February 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

The blockbuster trade between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sixers, which sent James Harden and Paul Millsap to Philadelphia in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round draft picks, sent shockwaves through the Eastern Conference.

While the Miami Heat (36-20) sit in first place in the East, the monster shakeup between the Nets and Sixers could have major effects on their journey to the postseason. To shed some light on the situation, Heavy spoke with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal for his assessment on how the conference will shake out.

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Shaq, who was in Los Angles hosting his annual pre-Super Bowl party, Shaq’s Fun House presented by FTX, spoke to Heavy before taking the stage as DJ Diesel at the Shrine Auditorium. He said it’s too early to tell if the Harden/Simmons trade will immediately give Philadelphia a boost.

In fact, the 15-time All-Star has his money on last year’s title winners. “Milwaukee is still the team because they’re the champs,” Shaq said, while also noting that the Sixers could become a problem for Giannis Antetokounmpo and company. “If James [Harden] and [Joel] Embiid can get it together, they’ll be dangerous.”

But what about the Heat? With Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, and Bam Adebayo firing on all cylinders, and the prodigal return of Victor Oladipo just around the corner, Miami will be a force to be reckoned with.

It was just a few weeks ago that Shaq, 49, shut down the possibility of Miami making a run to the Finals — “This isn’t their year,” he told Heavy, but now he seems to be singing a different tune.

“The Heat is also on the list because of the culture of how they play,” Shaq said. The Inside the NBA host has an intimate understanding of Heat culture, as he played for center for the franchise between 2004-2008 and was instrumental in helping the team win the NBA Championship in 2006.

Following the Heat’s fourth straight win on the road, Miami returns home to take on the Harden-less Nets on Saturday, February 12.


Shaq Says It’s ‘Hard to Predict’ Who’s Got the Upper Hand in the East

Shaq

GettyShaquille O’Neal attends Shaq’s Fun House presented by FTX at Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on February 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

While the blockbuster trade between the Sixers and the Nets could turn the tides in the Eastern Conference, it could also turn out to be a huge bust. With the All-Star break just around the corner, Shaq says it’s too early to confidently say who has the upper hand in the East.

“It’s hard to predict. It really is,” Shaq said, before mentioning another franchise that could turn out to be the team to beat. With DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine at full health, he says the Bulls will be in the mix. “Chicago is going to be looking for people’s respect,” Shaq said.

The Bulls haven’t made it to the postseason since 2017, but it seems they will end that drought in 2022.


There’s Less Confusion When it Comes to Figuring Out the Western Conference Leaders

While there are numerous contenders for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, Shaq says it’s down to just two teams in the Western Conference.

“In the west, I’m leaning toward Phoenix or Golden State,” Shaq said. The Suns currently sit firmly in first place with a 45-10 record, while the Warriors (41-15) are a not-so-distant second.

The former Lakers legend didn’t mention his former team as being in the mix. Lebron James and company are currently sitting in the 9th spot in the West with a 26-30 record.

READ NEXT: Heat’s Former Second-Round Pick Traded for a 3rd Time This Season

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