Brooklyn players worry about injuries, while Shaq O’Neal says they can beat Miami


Shaq-tntTNT analyst and former NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal said that if Brooklyn Nets could stay healthy, he he likes their chances to defeat Miami Heat led by Lebron James, NY Daily News reported.

Some believe the Nets have what it takes to knock LeBron James and the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat from their perch, and O’Neal is one of them.

O’Neal played in 1207 NBA games (1197 started), averaging 23.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.3 bpg in 34.7 minutes of action. He was a 15-time NBA All-Star, and won 4 NBA championships (three with Los Angeles Lakers, one with Miami Heat).

Shaq feels Brooklyn’s title aspirations are legitimate, provided its star players can stay on the court and build chemistry.

“If they can stay healthy, I think they can give Miami a run,” O’Neal said at a TNT luncheon in New York. “If they come together, I think they can take Miami.”

Jason Kidd, the Nets’ coach called Shaq’s sentiment “a great compliment.”

Brooklyn has already had to deal with a number of injuries this preseason, none bigger than Deron Williams’ sprained ankle. However Nets’ players believe they have a chance.

“I think we’re capable of doing whatever we want,” Joe Johnson said. “As far as our mentality, some of the additions that we’ve added over the summer with KG (Kevin Garnett,) Paul (Pierce,) Jet (Jason Terry), (Andrei) Kirilenko, Alan Anderson, those guys help us bring a championship pedigree. So the sky’s the limit for us. Health is an issue for us, so we just gotta keep guys right.”

O’Neal has often praised Nets center Brook Lopez, who earned All-Star honors for the first time last season. Lopez, whom O’Neal reportedly called the best center in the league Monday, said “that’s how we feel as well” when asked about O’Neal’s comments about the team’s title hopes.

“It’s great to hear from the outside, but we’re very confident in ourselves,” Lopez said.

Kirilenko says the Nets can’t focus only on competing with the Heat. He noted the Clippers have improved — they re-signed Chris Paul and added Darren Collison, Jared Dudley, Antawn Jamison and J.J. Redick — the Bulls have a healthy Derrick Rose back and the Pacers added Luis Scola.

“There’s so (many) great teams in NBA right now,” he said. “I think there’s a few teams which are kind of getting stronger. We can’t concentrate on the Miami Heat only and forget about everybody else.”

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