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Perkins: Cavs better without Shaq

There is no denying that Shaquille O’€™Neal is one of the most challenging big men to go up against in the NBA. But in the case of the Cavaliers [1], Kendrick Perkins [2] thinks they are better suited without him.

The Cavaliers are 6-1 since O’€™Neal suffered a sprained thumb on February 25 against the Celtics [3]. While it should be noted that wins during that stretch came against the sub-.500 Knicks, Nets, Pistons, and 76ers, Perkins believes that the Cavaliers have more options and speed without O’€™Neal.

‘€œIn my opinion, I think they’€™re better,’€ he said after practice on Saturday. ‘€œThey can run more, you’€™ve got Anderson Varejao who’€™s more of an active body, he gets LeBron open a lot, opens up the paint for him, so I think they’€™re a better team. I mean obviously Shaq could help them, but I think they’€™re a better, more fast-paced team.’€

Even without O’€™Neal on the court, Perkins will still have hands full in the paint. Anderson Varejao isn’€™t as big as O’€™Neal, but he causes problems for opponents in his own way.

‘€œYou’€™ve just got to take him out of the game,’€ said Perkins. ‘€œI think you’€™ve got to, all the time he’€™s more of the instigator. I think you’€™ve got to be more of the instigator when you’€™re playing against him. You’€™ve got to hit him first. He’€™s a guy who flops, gets a lot of calls, takes charges, offensive rebounds, so I think you’€™ve just got to keep a body on him and play against him hard.’€

Varejao is averaging 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in two games against the Celtics this season, compared to 8.0 points and 6.0 rebounds from O’€™Neal.