Shaq used MMA training to prepare for season


Shaq used MMA training to prepare for season

By Jessica Camerato

WALTHAM -- This summer, fans watched Shaquille O'Neal battle Justin Bieber in a dance-off, golf against Charles Barkley, and challenge Joey Chestnut to a hot-dog eating contest on his hit television show, Shaq Vs.

But what people didn't see was ONeal's preparation for his 19th NBA season. Friendly competitions aside, the 38-year-old pushed himself to get ready for basketball. He followed a daily routine to stay in game-shape during the offseason.

"I'd wake up, go to the UFC school for about an hour-and-a-half, come back, eat lunch, take a nap, and then go swimming at night," he told

O'Neal trained in mixed martial arts with Jonathan Burke at Gracie Barra Orlando. He has been participating in the program for several years and finds the workouts on the mat help him on the court.

"I did a lot of wrestling stuff because that's the only thing that prepares me for basketball," he said. "I play the wrestling basketball, rather than the running basketball. I can run and jump all day, but I get tired when I have to wrestle against big guys. So wrestling helps me get my stamina."

In the evenings, O'Neal swam 40 laps a night at 24 Hour Fitness in Orlando. This hour-long workout reminds him of the pace of the game.

"Swimming is similar to basketball," he said. "Sprint, sprint, sprint, rest. Sprint, sprint, sprint, rest."

O'Neal is not the only member of the Celtics to follow this type of offseason regimen. Glen Davis also participates in MMA training during the summer in Las Vegas.

Even though the two have yet to test their skills against one another, both are sure they could predict the outcome.

"I could teach him a move or two - armbar, probably kimura, different kinds of positions. I could teach him some kicks," said Davis. "I'd beat him, though. Too seasoned."

Said O'Neal: "Yeah right. He wishes."

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA.

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat


Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

BOSTON -- There was a bomb threat to the Boston Celtics’ team plane to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.

The incident will be investigated by NBA security which will work in conjunction with the FBI on this matter which was one of several hoaxes called into airports across the country on Saturday.

News of the bomb threat was first known when Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted an Instagram photo showing players departing the plane with the caption, “BOMB THREAT ON US”.

Celtics officials declined to comment on the matter and instead referred all bomb threat-related questions to the league office.

Messages to the league office were not immediately returned.

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”