Tuesday , Apr , 25 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Playoff Notebook: Shaq, Wade have that look in their eyes

(Sports Network) – Miami owns a 2-0 lead over the Bulls in its first round
playoff series. The second-seeded Heat defeated No. 7 Chicago in Games 1 and 2
at AmericanAirlines Arena.

After winning Game 1, 111-106, the Heat kept homecourt advantage with a solid
win in the second game of the best-of-seven series. Jason Williams ended with
a playoff career-high 22 points and Antoine Walker totaled 17 points and a
game-high 10 rebounds to lead the Heat over Chicago, 115-108, at
AmericanAirlines Arena.

“We played at a real high level again, tremendous amount of energy, spirit and
ball movement, but we didn’t finish,” said Miami head coach Pat Riley after
Game 2s win. “That disturbs me and it should disturb our players after working
so hard and playing so well. It happened the other night also and we continued
to allow open shots and drives to the basket, but we’re ahead two to nothing
and that’s what it’s about.”

All-Stars Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade are the leaders of the Heat and
have started off the playoffs in impressive fashion. In Game 2s win, Wade
netted 21 and dished out a team-high seven assists, while Shaq scored 22 and
pulled down seven boards.

Wade played over 44 minutes and was 10-for-20 from the floor, O’Neal logged 35
minutes and ended 8-of-14 from the field and was a surprising 6-for-7 from the
charity stripe.

“I feel alright,” said Wade. “I thought I did pretty good. It was tough on me
getting my legs loose, but once I did I felt alright. Once I knew I was able
to at least run and jump, then I would be out there helping my team. By the
third quarter I started to feel it was getting loose. I didn’t have my
athletic ability tonight, but I was able to make plays that I had to make. I
did what I had to do.”

Both teams shot over 50 percent from the floor in Game 2, while Miami
outrebounded the Bulls, 40-36. Chicago committed 18 turnovers in the loss.

Chicago was led by forward Andres Nocioni, who finished with a game-high 30
points in Game 2s loss. Guard Kirk Hinrich also had a solid game in defeat, as
he contributed 29 points and a club-high seven assists.

“I thought we made it interesting again at the end,” said Chicago head coach
Scott Skiles. “We pretty much got dominated from beginning to end. Our
collapsing on Shaq was better tonight, but our close-outs were as bad as
they’ve been all year for us. They were below our standard.

“They were able to just show-and-go right by us and break us down all over the
place. It’s the second game in a row where our defense has not been good
enough to win. We’re a defensive oriented team and when we’re not getting that
done, were normally in trouble. Offensively, we’ve been playing pretty well.
We’re moving the ball. We’re getting good shots. Our ball handling tonight was
very suspect, but I can’t complain about our offense. Defensively we’re not
getting it done.”

Miami, which played Game 2 without starting power forward Udonis Haslem, who
was suspended for the contest for throwing his mouthpiece at referee Joe
Crawford during Game 1’s victory, had six players score in double-figures in
Game 2s win. To go along with the solid performances by Shaq, Wade, Walker and
Williams, swingman James Posey contributed 12 points and veteran Gary Payton
scored 11.

“If they are going to double, then I am going to look for my shooters and see
what my shooters are going to do,” said O’Neal. “My guys are shooting the ball
well, they are playing inside out very well. If they are not going to double,
then I am going to just do what I do. If they are going to put two and three
guys on me, I am going to urge my guys to keep shooting. Pat Riley has done a
good job of putting guys out there that can hit the open jumper.”

Wade, who scored 30 points in Game 1s win, leads the Heat in scoring (25.5
ppg) and assists (9.0 apg) so far in the postseason, while Shaq is averaging
24.5 points and a team-best 11.5 rebounds per game.

It’s no secret that the Heat will go only as far as Shaq and Wade can take
them. If they can continue to get solid production from their supporting cast,
Miami has a great chance to reach the conference finals for a second straight
year and possibly get over the hump and into the NBA Finals.