Shaq says the Toronto Raptors will be swept in the first round of NBA Playoffs
The NBA Playoffs arrive on April 16, the fifth-seeded Toronto Raptors set to square off in an away game against the fourth-seed Philadephia 76ers in their first post-season appearance of 2022.
Toronto had the best final ten-game stretch of any Eastern Conference team, silencing critics by winning eight of their last ten regular-season appearances.
The 76ers, who have only won three more games than the Raptors, will be shorthanded for games played in Toronto, with at least one of their players reported to be ineligible to play in Canada due to federal vaccine requirements at the border.
But even with these factors seeming to level the playing field, one of the biggest (in both the figurative and literal sense) personalities in the basketball world thinks that the Raptors could be facing a quick first-round playoff exit.
The great Shaquille O'Neal is predicting a sweep for Philly.
"Toronto is getting swept, write it down." - @SHAQ #Raptors #Sixers #WeTheNorth— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) April 11, 2022
(📹: @NBAonTNT) pic.twitter.com/tABbMQwuNS
NBA on TNT co-host Ernie Johnson recently claimed on air that "Philly is going to have a battle with Toronto in that first round," with fellow co-host and former on-court legend Charles Barkley agreeing. But Shaq wasn't having it, replying, "No way. Toronto's getting swept. Write it down."
Say you didn't watch the @Raptors this season, without saying you haven't watched the #Raptors this season.#RTZ #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/RfBOBER8Z4— Varun Khanna (@BrownBearVK) April 11, 2022
Like Shaq's fellow on-air personalities, Toronto fans are stunned by the proclamation, many wondering what season Shaq was even watching this year.
I like Shaq, & the interplay between he and the other guys is entertaining, but he shows over and over again that he doesn’t watch games. He just doesn’t. No Thybulle in Toronto, a rested Van Vleet to annoy a lesser Harden, years of history to fall back on, & he still goes there— David Tingley (@hoopstingley) April 11, 2022
It didn't take long for Shaq to change his tune, though, retracting his bold claim only moments later in the broadcast. "Ernie, did you put my sticker on the board yet?," Shaq asks to an affirmative reply, adding, "Good, don't. Rescind it."
"Ernie, did you put my sticker on the board yet? No? Good. Don't. Rescind it. Toronto will get swept... rescind it. Strike that from the table."@SHAQ comes to his senses.#WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/bNpESnhgwC— Varun Khanna (@BrownBearVK) April 11, 2022
Raptors fans were quick to defend, but this is not the same Philly squad the Raptors barely eked out a series win against in 2019.
A much-matured Joel Embiid (he literally cried last time he faced Toronto in the playoffs) won the NBA scoring title this year, while recent acquisitions James Harden and Paul Millsap have added even more scoring depth.
You might want to check the box scores. Raps are 2-1 vs Embiid this year (with him doing at least ok in every game) and 3-1 vs 76ers overall.— Aaron (@aaron240866) April 11, 2022
But that doesn't mean they're unstoppable. And Shaq may have realized that a few minutes too late.
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