Sunday , Apr , 29 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Five Steps For Shaquille O’Neal, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat to Contend

The Chicago Bulls knocked the defending champion Miami Heat from the playoffs in four games. Miami looked old, tired, and confused. All is not lost. The Heat could once again contend, but they must make immediate changes because Shaq is getting older. Here’s what they should do…..

won’t be dazzling us with his late-game heroics. won’t be hosting a June victory parade. And, thankfully, Shaq won’t be encouraging Pat Riley to dance on stage.

 Wade, Shaq, and Coach Riley have plenty of time to think about getting swept from the opening round of the playoffs-courtesy of and the .

This is the first time a reigning champion has been swept from the post-season since Phoenix did it to San Antonio in 2000. And this is the first time in fifty years a reigning champion has been swept in the first round.

The sweep illustrates how far Miami has fallen from last year’s championship form. There is good news. With these five steps, the Heat can once again become  contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Step One: Miami must get Wade and Shaq healthy. Wade should consider sitting out the Olympic qualifying tournament to get some rest, while Shaq should consider moving into one of his 24 Hour gyms. These two have to be injury-free for the Heat to contend.

Step Two: Miami must develop an identity. During the first-half of the season, with Wade in the line-up, the Heat played an up-tempo game. But Wade missed most of the second-half with a shoulder injury, so the Heat had to become a defensive team. When the playoffs hit, they had no identity and struggled. The Heat must decide what kind of team they want to be.

Step Three: Miami must cut ties with their veterans and find some athletes. , , , and have little to offer at this point in their careers. The Heat should bring in some athletic players and give additional minutes to .

Step Four: should have an increased role in the offense. The power forward keeps improving, so give him some more shot-attempts and minutes.

Step Five: Pat Riley must once again clarify his future. Each time there’s a setback, rumors flare-up that Riles wants out. This is fair. After all, he’s left the Heat before in mid-season. A public statement would keep the media from turning his future into a circus.

Shaq’s career is winding down. So the Heat must make immediate changes before their window of opportunity closes shut.

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