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Hard to figure

Not much went on "behind the scenes" during this game, so I'll stick to the on-court stuff.

It's kind of hard to read this team right now. Other than the early defensive breakdowns against Baron Davis in particular, this was an ideal style of win for the Heat: They get 53 from Dwyane and Shaq on 23 of 34 shooting (68 percent), dominated the boards 48-37, got 34 assists on 46 field goals (which means the ball was moving freely), got 19 points from Antoine Walker, and Gary Payton and Jason Williams combined for 24 points and 14 assists and they shoot 59 percent for the game.

But can all that continue? Is this the team waking up after losses against New Orleans and Phoenix, or is it just one of those good games that excite a fan but doesn't come consistently?

I tend to think it's the former. The Warriors aren't a great defensive team (give up just below 100 per game), but the Heat executed great, and it looked easy. I think now that they're not trying to force it to Shaq, the ball is moving, players are moving and Dwyane is finding open space all over the place. I think it took those losses to the Hornets and Suns for everyone to see that forcing the ball inside is a mistake when a defense is giving you other options.

And speaking of Shaq... look out for him. I said during the game that he looked like he's getting his legs back, and he said the exact same thing after the game. Not only did he back guys down and then jump OVER them for a dunk, he spun around guys a couple times, and went up to get a few blocks, too.

I still don't think he'll have consistenly huge numbers the rest of the season because teams are still game planning to stop him, but if he plays against a team like the Pistons, who don't double-team him, he might just go nuts.
For now, the guards can carry the team with the extra space they get thanks to Shaq.

The next game might be another easy win because Ray Allen is probably going to be suspended, making the Sonics a one-man team (Rashard Lewis). But look out for the Jazz on Saturday. Utah's on a roll, and the Heat will be playing them on the second night of a back-to-back. It'll be a big test of the Heat's defense, because Jerry Sloan has those guys executing to perfection.




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