Saturday, April 21, 2007

Shaq Will Play TE For The Dolphins: Heat-Bulls First Round Preview

Bruised and battered warriors. Bruised and battered champions. That’s what the Heat are going into today’s first game of the NBA Playoffs in Chicago. It’s been a snake-bitten year for the world champs. Consider the following:

Only once has the core of last year’s championship run been on the floor at the same time in a game this season; Shaq, D-Wade and J-Will have started together only twice; then there has been all the injuries: Jason Williams, Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton, Jason Kapono, Udonis Haslem, James Posey, Shaq and, of course, D-Wade, have all missed significant time with injuries. Hell, even Pat Riley had to miss some time to recover from hip surgery.

The ecstasy that was June 2006 seems like a distant memory now. And the boys enter the 2007 post-season with a AA Arena-sized target on their backs. And they enter it in hostile territory.

We all know the facts. Wade struggles against the Bulls. He averages only 17 points whenever he plays in his home town of Chicago. The Bulls are notoriously physical and notoriously streaky. The Heat can be brilliant or downright frustrating.

But the one factor folks forget every season – especially last season – is the Shaq Factor. While Wade will struggle due to his still not being at 100% and with the fact Chicago plays him tough, this has to – and will – become Shaquille O’Neal’s show.

It was Shaq who stepped up last post-season against the Bulls. In Game 6 of the 2006 playoffs against Chicago, The Diesel pounded the Bulls with a 30 point, 20 rebound performance. While Wade was relegated to somewhat “average” status, Shaq picked up the slack – and whether it was pounding the rock down the middle or making 4 or 5 excellent passes to open teammates, Shaq was the center-piece of that series. And he’s going to have to be again. This first series needs to be Shaq’s series. And he knows it. And he will act accordingly.

Dan Le Batard recently had a 10 question session with O’Neal.

The final two questions:
Has there ever been a more physically gifted athlete in sports than you?
“Never. Nobody.''
I've always thought you could have been the NFL's best tight end . . .
I would have to agree with you. I like physical contact, and I have great hands. If the Dolphins want to sign me, three years and $25 million. Throw it up like an alley-oop. I'll go get it.

Go get it, Big Aristotle!

Prediction: Heat in 6

(Sorry, but no time for a movie-themed preview for this round. I’ve got a crazy busy day today. I’ll make it up to you next time.)

Heat-Bulls First Round Series:
GM 1: @ CHI, Sat., 3:00 PM
GM 2: @ CHI, Tue., 8:00 PM
GM 3: @ MIA, Fri., 8:00 PM
GM 4: @ MIA, Apr. 29, 1:00 PM
GM 5: @ CHI, May 1*
GM 6: @ MIA, May 3*
GM 6: @ CHI, May 5*



Nice preview, Dude. A bit brief but, I feel ya on the busy day.

I agree that Shaq needs to step up and let this be his series. But don't be surprised if D-Wade gets it rolling here. He's been itching for this series and I think his competetive nature is going to carry him thru. Plus, I read that Zo is going to get a lot more minutes and we could see him on the floor at the same time with Shaq. That would be kick ass.

Heat in 5

This is Shaq's series. The outcome will depend on his play. Heat in 5 or 6 sounds good to me.
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