Saturday, June 03, 2006


The Heat is on

Like I predicted, the Miami Heat defeated the defending Eastern Conference champions the Detroit Piston in the NBA semifinals, 4 games to 2. Last night's 91-86 victory capped off a low-scoring series and sent the Heat to their first-ever NBA finals.
Generally, it takes two superstar players to get to "the dance," as the NBA finals, World Series and Super Bowl are euphemistically called. Miami's duo of center Shaquille O'Neal and shooting guard Dwyane Wade has proven to be formidible. Last night, as Wade tried to shake off the flu, O'Neal dominated Game 6 with a vintage 28-point (12-for-14 shooting), 16-rebound, 5-blocked shot performance.
Wade had a series-low 14 points, but scattered 10 assists. Richard Hamilton (33 points) did his best to keep the Pistons in the game.

Much of the credit for the Heat's success has to go to coach Pat Riley, who replaced Stan Van Gundy in December after the team's 11-10 start. Riley's won 4 NBA titles, all when he was with the Lakers in the '80s ('82, '85, '87, '88). His last appearance in the finals was with the Knicks in 1994. Riley's Heat will most likely face the Dallas Mavericks, who can finish off the Suns tonight in Phoenix. In Game 5, Mavs' center Dirk Nowitski exploded for 50 points. Clearly, the Suns have no answer for Dirk. Tip-off is 8:30 pm on TNT.

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