Tuesday night’s matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Brooklyn Nets featured two of the NBA’s elite teams this season.
The game also contained Shaquille O’Neal’s current pick to win the Finals.
On Inside the NBA on Tuesday night, the former NBA big man called the Warriors the favorite to win a championship this season. Shaq feels that with their impressive start, which continued with a dominant performance against the Nets, Golden State will be nearly unbeatable once sharpshooter Klay Thompson returns to the lineup.
“They’re 12-2 at 85 percent. What I mean by that is Mr. Klay [Thompson] isn’t even back yet,” O’Neal said. “When he comes back and they’re playing like this. The energy they’re playing with – shoutout to my nephew, Gary Payton II – Golden State is my favorite to win the championship right now.”
Shaq also explained that he and the rest of the Inside the NBA team overlooked the Warriors when discussing contenders prior to the season.
“First of all, we all disrespected the Golden State over the summer,” the TNT analyst said. “The Lakers have their spectacular lineup and we’re like ‘Oh, the Lakers will be in the championship.’ Or we’ll say ‘Brooklyn is going to be in the championship.’ Everybody forgot about Golden State.”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) November 17, 2021
Shaq’s proclamation is a bold one to make considering the Warriors have played just 14 games this season. It might be early, but a handful of Golden State supporters and other NBA fans around the league agreed with the Hall of Famer’s early title pick.
Yes Shaq https://t.co/IIg0Yt0Y4D
— Roc-A-Fella $ (@BabyTeddypender) November 17, 2021
Cannot argue. https://t.co/c8tlr4QtGf
— Mr. Hicks (@Ghicks_44) November 17, 2021
Let's go! https://t.co/NnnTJrCGE1
— Jimmy (Dubs 12-2) 🇵🇭 (@DubsJimmy12) November 17, 2021
Still, not everyone around the NBA world fully agreed with Shaq. Others thought that O’Neal and the other analysts on Inside the NBA should exercise caution with their predictions at this early stage in the year.
Shaquille O'Neal and Stephen A. Smith are picking #DubNation to win a chip this season. We are barely a month into the season! Can we see if Klay Thompson gets healthy? Kawhi Leonard? Can we see what trades are made at the deadline? #NBA #NBA75 https://t.co/eeVpGuEO4O
— Jazz Johnson (@JazzJohnson10) November 17, 2021
Too early https://t.co/jMUGXQEUhj
— Yvem (@yvaime) November 17, 2021
Others didn’t take a stand on Shaq’s comments, but got caught up in the excitement of the league this season. With so many teams seemingly in contention for a championship, there’s no telling how the year will shake out.
“What makes this season fun is that I don’t think you can rule out any of the top tier teams to win a title. Warriors, Nets, Bucks, Suns and even the free falling Lakers have a chance to win it all so it’s interesting to watch and see how things play out for these teams,” one fan wrote.
What makes this season fun is that I don't think you can rule out any of the top tier teams to win a title. Warriors, Nets, Bucks, Suns and even the freefalling Lakers have a chance to win it all so it's interesting to watch and see how things play out for these teams https://t.co/6NUJVYrUBC
— KJ Amankwaa (pronounced KO-FEE A-MON-KWAH) (@KofiAmankwaaJr) November 17, 2021
Golden State might be Shaq’s championship pick in the current moment, but time will tell if circumstances change in the next few months.
Regardless of where the Warriors end up, they’ll be a must-watch team for the rest of the season.