"It's harder to score on the defensive player of the year, fool!" - Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley get into a heated debate over potential showdown between Marcus Smart and 6x All-Star

Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley get into a heated debate
Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley get into a heated debate
Siddhant Gupta

Pre-game coverage of the 2022 NBA Western Conference Finals saw Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley get into the swing of the competition as the two entered a heated debate about the matchup between Marcus Smart and six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler.

What started as pre-game coverage for Game 1 of the WCF quickly changed course as the crew discussed the outcome of the Eastern Conference Finals game the day earlier.

While things started off gently, the conversation became heated as Shaquille O'Neal expressed how Jimmy Butler's offensive skill could overwhelm the reigning DPOY Marcus Smart.

"First of all, Jimmy can get 40 if he puts his mind to it. With or without Marcus Smart, Jimmy Butler can get 40."

However, Charles Barkley was quick with the retort:

"But it's still harder to get 40 on the Defensive Player of the Year."

This simple disagreement spiraled out of control as the other panel members gradually got involved in the heated debate. With both Shaq and Chuck sticking to their guns, neither gave the other an inch to work with.

O'Neal continued to emphasize Butler's mentality at this stage of the season, whereas Barkley emphasized that scoring on the DPOY was relatively more difficult when he said:

"This is a totally different animal. It's harder to score on the Defensive Player of the Year, fool!"

The heated back-and-forth continued but amounted to nothing. While Shaq's comments gradually got a bit personal as they hit home for Chuck, the intensity of the situation was cut by a hilarious gesture to move on by Ernie Johnson.

With the backdrop of the game being the Western Conference Finals, the result of the East still stole the segment. With an intense battle brewing ahead of Game 2, it will be interesting to see how the Miami Heat superstar performs once Marcus Smart returns to the floor.

Shaquille O'Neal or Charles Barkley: Who wins the debate?

Jimmy Butler keeps the ball away from Marcus Smart
Jimmy Butler keeps the ball away from Marcus Smart

Given the intense nature of the discussion, a lot of valid points were raised, but they were also swept away. Both Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley had solid stands in this regard.

Jimmy Butler is built for the playoffs. There is no debate on that matter. As far as scoring outings go, Butler has shown that he deserves to be in the conversation about who is among the league's best.

From Chuck's side, Marcus Smart is an extremely valuable piece on the floor for Boston. The degree of influence he wields on the defensive end is hard to replicate, much less replace.

Purely as a positional matchup, it seems unlikely that Smart would guard Butler one-on-one. In this regard, their interactions are likely to be off the switch and in double-team situations.

Given the form Butler is in, it seems difficult to assume anybody is capable of stopping him. While a 40-piece might be a bit of a long shot, the Heat star is always capable of making it happen.

Marcus Smart's good defense turned to quick offense 😀

What is for certain, however, is that both of them are incredibly strong-willed players who share some bad blood. So a showdown between them at this stage in the season would be intense, to say the least.

live poll LIVE POLL

Q. Can Jimmy Butler keep up his scoring momentum with Marcus Smart back in the lineup?



Edited by Windy Goodloe


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