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Miami Heat vs New Jersey Nets

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

(2) MIAMI HEAT

Miami had to turn it up a notch to beat a pesky Chicago Bulls team in six and make it into the second round.

Guard Dwayne Wade, who was injured during the series, pumped in an average of 24.7 PPG and had 7.2 APG. Shaquille O’Neal was inconsistent throughout the series, but dominated in the final game. Despite uneven play, the aging center led the team with 10.80 RPG and a .607 shooting percentage.

Forward Antoine Walker stepped up, playing an average of 39.3 MPG. His 14.7 PPG was third best for the Heat. Swingman James Posey came off the bench and grabbed 6.20 RPG and knocked down 11.8 PPG.

Udonis Haslem, who provided solid play, was suspended for a game for throwing his mouthpiece at a referee. Jason Williams, at guard, offered dependable service and 10.3 PPG.

The all-star tandem of O’Neal and Wade are tough to beat and big men who dominate the boards run Miami’s inside game. Haslem has to watch his temper, O’Neal his stamina and Wade his health. This team is tenacious, but does it have enough to make it through another series?

(3) NEW JERSEY NETS

It was a nip and tuck series as it took the Nets six games to beat the Pacers and head into the second round.

Although Jason Kidd averaged only 8 PPG, he provided plenty of offense by feeding 10.2 APG and swiping 7.5 RPG. Second-year center Nenad Krstic played a smart inside game with 7.2 RPG and 18.0 PPG.

Guard Vince Carter seemed to be everywhere, hitting for 29.2 PPG, taking in 8.20 RPG and dishing off 8.20 APG. Swingman Richard Jefferson stepped it up a notch, hitting for 23.5 PPG, providing a needed inside presence for the offense.

The Nets had a tough time with Indiana, a team that often outplayed them during the series. Ultimately, the difference was at the foul line and in New Jersey’s ability to move the ball and find the good shot.

This is a team that seems to be one player away from the finals. Kidd had a much better season than this first playoff series would indicate. Carter is a true superstar. Krstic has a solid inside game. The Nets could use that big man who can bang inside. They don’t really have that, which means they’ll take a lot of heat from Miami in this next series.

Maddux Sports Series Picks

New Jersey wins series 4-2

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