Popular ESPN host Stephen A. Smith set his sights on Shaquille O’Neal on Thursday after the latter’s supposedly absurd comments about the Portland Trail Blazers. After watching TNT’s postgame show of the Blazers versus Indiana Pacers game, the outspoken sports personality claimed he needs a sit-down with The Big Diesel about his latest hot take.
Shaq pointed out the team’s horrible defense as the reason behind the 111-87 blowout defeat to the Pacers. While the Hall of Fame big man isn’t completely wrong, Smith didn’t appreciate the rather confusing message.
Yo @SHAQ, what in the hell did you just say on @NBAonTNT??? It’s not that the @trailblazers don’t play defense? It’s that they need to show more effort playing defense?????
Man, we need to talk! That might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard you say😀😀😀
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) January 15, 2021
The Blazers’ defensive effort was indeed pretty much non-existent against the Pacers, allowing them to do pretty much whatever they want offensively. Starting center Jusuf Nurkic also broke his right wrist in the third period and left the game, further depleting their frontline.
The duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum finished with 22 points apiece but were no match to the Pacers’ more balanced attack. Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon torched Rip City’s defense with 25 and 23 points, respectively.
It seems like defense has always been the Achilles heel of the Blazers over the last few years. As explosive as they are on offense, they have failed to match that intensity when it comes to stopping their opponents. With the latest loss, they dropped to 7-5.
Shaq probably meant well when he pointed out the Blazers need a bit more sense of urgency to deal with their defensive shortcomings. Smith has also been known to make outrageous claims in the past so maybe he can cut Shaq some slack.