Monday , Feb , 26 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Heat’s playoff chances my be Wade-ing away

(Sports Network) – Maybe there is just some bad karma floating around Miami
head coach Pat Riley.

The Heat started their title defense this season just 13-17 under Riley before
the head coach stepped aside on January 3 because of health related issues.
Assistant Ron Rothstein took over and Miami eventually fought and clawed its
way back to .500 right before the All-Star break.

Then Riley announced he was coming back and things actually got worse for the
Heat.

In the club’s first game back after the break, All-Star guard Dwyane Wade
dislocated his left shoulder when he got tangled up with Houston’s Shane
Battier in the fourth quarter.

It is now uncertain when Wade will return. According to a report in the Miami
Herald on Monday, one option the star guard has is to simply rehab the
shoulder, which would allow him to return in about six weeks with time left in
the regular season. Or, Wade can elect to have surgery and be done for the
rest of the season.

The Heat will hope for the first option seeing as though they are 17-25 in
games played without Wade since his rookie season. That includes a 2-7 mark
this campaign.

However, Miami also needs to be careful not to endanger the well being of
their star player long term.

With Wade out, the offensive load will shift back to center Shaquille O’Neal.
The 7-foot-1 big man never strays from the spotlight and deep down inside, may
enjoy a chance to show people he can still win without Wade.

O’Neal has done his part so far. In Miami’s first game without Wade on
Thursday, he and James Posey led the team with 17 points each in a loss to
Dallas while O’Neal then netted a team-high 19 points in a win over Cleveland
on Sunday.

Heading into action on Monday, O’Neal is just five points shy of reaching
25,000 for his career. Having already grabbed 11,193 rebounds in his career,
he will become just the seventh player in NBA history to reach the mark of
25,000 points and 10,000 rebounds. That list also includes Kareem Abdul-
Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes and Hakeem
Olajuwon.

MIA