The talk-the-talk campaign is starting to become the walk-the-walk tour for O'Neal, who became the first player in Heat history to start a season with consecutive games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. The same man who provided so much misery for the Heat as a member of the Pacers inflicted a bit against his former team in Friday's 96-83 victory at Conseco Fieldhouse.
With the victory, the Heat opens the season 2-0 for the first time since the 2004-05 season. O'Neal finished his second straight game with 22 points and 12 rebounds to provide the inside threat to Dwyane Wade's perimeter dominance. Michael Beasley and Udonis Haslem continued to do their two-headed thing at the power forward position.
Yes, these two victories came against New York and Indiana. But the Heat is showing it is capable of beating teams it is supposed to beat. And that's a good sign to start the season for this team.
D. WADE'S DOINGS: It was one of those games when you looked up and realized that Wade had 16 points in the first half and it seemed like he didn't even break a sweat. The guy's game is that smooth already this season. He had perhaps the most effortless 32-point performance I have seen from him in four seasons covering the team. That's how silky smooth Wade was at times Friday. He was 9 of 19 from the field and 14 of 19 from the free-throw line. He also had four assists, three steals, three rebounds and block in 35 minutes. Most importantly, he had plenty of help for the second time in as many games.
TURNING POINT: The Heat used a 16-4 spurt early in the third quarter to build a 17-point lead. Miami outscored the Pacers 30-16 in the period, with Jermaine O'Neal doing majority of the damage. The Pacers shot just 30 percent from the field in the quarter.
WINNING EDGE: The Heat played its best, defensively, at the start of the game and in the third quarter. Both times the team exited the locker room, it proceeded to hold the Pacers to only 16 points in the ensuing quarter. That's an example of the Heat opening with a solid game plan and then making adjustments during halftime. It also didn't hurt that the normally streak-shooting Pacers never got too hot.
HEAD-SCRATCHER: Midway through the first quarter, Udonis Haslem cut through the lane as the trailer on a fast-break and flushed a nasty dunk over Pacers big man Solomon Jones. Perhaps it was a bit of payback for last season's playoff loss to the Hawks. Jones signed with the Pacers in the offseason. But back to the dunk. You rarely see that kind of above-the-rim explosion from Haslem, who is playing with a chip-on-the-shoulder edge coming off the bench. "I'm still a pretty good athlete, you know," Haslem said. "It's been a while since I was able to run the break in that position and catch the ball with full head of steam." It was a rewarding game for Haslem, who finished with a double-double on the same day his mother had another successful round of surgery to treat cancer.
KEY CONTRIBUTION: There were plenty. But you have to look no further than O'Neal. The last time Dwyane Wade had an O'Neal playing this well, the Heat was headed for a championship run. Wade is simply happy with the two-game sample he's seen from Jermaine. O'Neal scored 13 of his 22 points in the third quarter, when the Heat pushed its lead to 17 points. He finished 7 of 13 from the field, 11 of 12 from the line, in 32 minutes. The best sign from O'Neal is that he's now snatching rebounds in traffic.
NEXT UP: Bulls at Heat, Sunday 6 p.m. - AmericanAirlines Arena.