Simple solution: Miami's role players must step up

Originally Published: June 12, 2006
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
DALLAS -- Well, that didn't last long.

The Miami Heat spent two days saying their strategy in Game 2 would be to get Shaquille O'Neal more shots in the paint, and for 23 seconds they followed it. The Heat won the opening tip and patiently worked the ball from side to side until O'Neal came clear near the rim, and he hit a layup and drew a foul to take the Heat to an early lead.

Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesThe Big Aristotle better think of a better plan of attack in Miami.

Unfortunately for Miami, that would be Shaq's only basket for more than 20 minutes. O'Neal only got two more field-goal attempts the entire first half, and finished with a meager five points to set a new career playoff low. The Diesel was so frustrated that he blew off the post-game interview session and absorbed a $10,000 fine.

In fairness, the Heat didn't abandon their game plan as much as the Mavs took it away from them. Dallas' strategy of sending double-teams at O'Neal forced him to be a passer rather than a scorer, but his supporting cast hasn't provided enough juice to deter the doubling since the first quarter of Game 1.

So putrid was Miami's offense, in fact, that in a five-quarter stretch spanning Games 1 and 2, it mustered only 83 points. That might be enough against popgun Eastern Conference offenses like New Jersey and Detroit, but against a team with the depth and variety of weapons that Dallas possesses, Miami can't rely on eking out 73-71 slugfests.