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Bet on the NBAIt may turn out that the worst mistake the Boston Celtics made during the 2010-2011 season was trading away center Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green.

With that trade, Boston has been chronically weak in the middle, and the return of Shaquille O'Neal from injury has been repeatedly pushed back.

Now, news is coming out that Shaq will not travel with the Celtics for the final two road games of the year. The team's game against the Miami Heat on Saturday is arguably one of the most important all season, as it could decide which of the two teams gets the second spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

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Shaq is well past his prime at 39 years old, and has not played for the Celtics since April 3, a game in which he played for six minutes before spraining his right calf. Before that, his last game with Boston was on February 1, when he suffered a right foot injury. He has only played in 37 games total this year.

Without a real center, Boston seems to have lost their way. From being the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, they have fallen to a potential third place behind the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat. The Kendrick Perkins trade has potentially eliminated the Celtics' hopes of winning the NBA Title in 2011.

Their size advantage was their main weapon against the other teams in the East, and the loss of Perkins destroyed that edge. Jeff Green has failed to make a real impact on the team, despite his scoring and rebounding prowess with the Oklahoma City Thunder. And by now, the new lineup should have had enough time to adjust and start winning again.

But the Celtics have dropped some really embarrassing games to the Nets, Rockets, Clippers, Bobcats, and Grizzlies. They were dismantled earlier this week by the Chicago Bulls. And one of the main reasons is that they are getting out-rebounded without their inside game.

While Boston will still be an impressive team come playoff time, there is little chance for them to win the NBA Championship this year. The road to the NBA Finals goes through Chicago this year, and Boston just can not compete with the more elite teams in the West, either.

 

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