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Road, sweet road

It was the last game AmericanAirlines Arena (I'm going to start calling it "The Cockpit" and see if it catches on) for the Heat until Jan. 20 when the Spurs come to town, but the Heat hit the road having shown some very positive signs.
Sign No. 1: James Posey looked as active as he has been all year, and his defense on Wally Szczerbiak got better as the game went on. And he was able to get some shots off a little quicker. He normally has one of the slowest releases in the league.
Sign No. 2: Shaq is mixing it up. When he's on his game, Shaq truly is The Big Sewer, hitting the turnaround shot, the lefty hook off glass, sweeping across the lane with a scoop shot and still catching the lobs for dunks and hitting the offensive glass. Shaq has been doing all that the last couple games, and he's 19 of 27 (70 percent) in those two games.
Sign No. 3: The team defense is getting there. Riley has changed things up, and guys are starting to get it. Rather than have set rotations, Riley wants his guys to help defend whenever they see it necessary. That means guys have to read each other and make quick decisions. It could make for some mismatches if they get caught in a bad rotation, but it also lets guys play aggressively and makes the defense less predictable, therefore harder to pick apart.
Sign No. 4: UD is hitting his J. Udonis Haslem wasn't getting great looks when Shaq was injured. Now that Shaq has been back for a while, Haslem is open more, and he's knocking down the shot even though he has two disfigured fingers (one that was hurt last year and one that he broke this year and looks disgusting).
If those continue, the upcoming road trip should be pretty successful. It's not like it's that tough or anything. Six of the seven games are against the Hornets, Sonics, Blazers, Warriors, Jazz and Lakers. The toughest game is against the Suns, who the Heat might be able to outscore.




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