Shaq walks back prediction that 76ers will sweep Raptors

·2-min read
Shaq is riding with the 76ers in their first-round series against the Toronto Raptors. (Photo by: Nick Agro/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Shaq is riding with the 76ers in their first-round series against the Toronto Raptors. (Photo by: Nick Agro/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

With the NBA season wrapped up and the playoff bracket locked in, the media machine behind the league is hard at work, making predictions for the action to come as fans prepare to cheer their favourite teams onto a deep postseason run.

No member of said media carries more weight, both in physical stature and through his reputation, than Hall of Fame centre and current NBA on TNT pundit Shaquille O’Neal.

On Sunday night’s broadcast, Shaq went viral once again when he confidently exclaimed that the Toronto Raptors are set to be swept at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers in their first round matchup.

The proclamation triggered a shocked reaction from co-hosts Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson, and predictably did the rounds online, where Raptors fans took umbrage with the 50-year-old’s comments.

O’Neal eventually rescinded his prediction later in the broadcast, perhaps through fear that he may end up being embarrassingly wrong.

Just last month, O’Neal controversially stated that the Los Angeles Lakers would beat the powerhouse Phoenix Suns if they were to match up in the first round of the playoffs. The Lakers not only failed to qualify for the playoffs, but also missed out on the play-in tournament, ending the season in the 11th seed with a 33-49 record.

The Raptors will open as slight underdogs at +170, according to DraftKings, but they have had their way with them this year. Toronto took the season series 3-1, with their most recent win coming April 7, and will be a tough matchup for Philadelphia's star duo of Joel Embiid and James Harden. The 76ers will also be short-handed for the games in Toronto, as bench guard Matisse Thybulle revealed on Sunday he isn't fully vaccinated and therefore ineligible to cross the border into Canada.

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