Boston Celtics

Shaq: Celtics ‘will be champions' if they focus on these two areas

"They've got to stay motivated."

NBC Universal, Inc.

The 2023-24 Boston Celtics are cruising toward one of the best regular-season records in franchise history. Of course, their historic success means next to nothing if they don't accomplish the ultimate goal of bringing home Banner 18.

Anything short of an NBA championship would be a massive disappointment for this Celtics group. They've fallen just short in recent years, losing in the 2022 Finals and in Game 7 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals.

While this season feels different, Boston still needs to stay locked in for the next couple of months to avoid another letdown. NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal believes the Celtics have what it takes to win it all, but he pointed out two areas they'll need to excel in down the stretch to make it happen.

"There's two things the Celtics must do to win the championship," O'Neal said on Thursday's NBA on TNT Pregame Show before Celtics-Suns tip-off. "One, you've got to stay motivated. Their only problem right now is they get complacent sometimes, they shoot a lot of 3s. If they can fix those problems like, 'OK, we're not hitting jumpers, let's go to the hole and mix it up,' they will be champions.

"When you have a lead like this, sometimes when the playoffs get ready to start, sometimes you say, 'You know, I don't want to get hurt. Let me just chill out and relax.' So they just have to stay motivated, keep doing what they're doing, and focus on the mistakes that they make. They have to realize now that when we shoot a lot of jumpers and we're not making jumpers, we've got to mix it up. Right now, sometimes they play like this and sometimes they play like that. But they're so good, they have this big lead over all the teams.

"If they can focus on those two things, they will be the champions this year."

The Celtics have all but locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference, leading the second-place Cleveland Cavaliers by 9.5 games as of Thursday evening. O'Neal stresses that the C's can't get too comfortable with their lead and let their foot off the gas down the stretch.

If they fall short again, it won't be due to a lack of talent. With help from offseason additions Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, Boston ranks first in the league in offensive rating (121.7) and net rating (11.3).

The quest for Banner 18 continues Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns. From there, the C's will have only 16 games separating them from their much-anticipated playoff run.

Contact Us