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Red Zone Diaries - FIVE and ALIVE

May 11 2005 11:26AM

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Dancer Gallery Nineteen

RedZone Diaries:

MIAMI, May 9 - The Miami HEAT has played five Playoff games here in 2005 and has won them all. It’s the longest playoff win streak in HEAT history.

They have five wins over the Washington Wizards this season by 13.8 points a game.

Their five playoff wins have come by an average margin of 14 points a game so far.

They have owned the lead at half and through three-quarters in all five games.

They have scored over 100 points in all five games.

They have had at least five players score in double-figures; yeah you guessed it, in all five games.

And the guy wearing the number Five has been sensational.

That would be Keyon Dooling, who turned 25 yesterday, while scoring a career playoff-high, 15 points, sparking Miami to a 105-86, Game 1 win in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

The 19 point win Sunday against the Wizards was Miami’s widest margin of victory yet in these playoffs and was their fourth by double digits. It was hardly their best game.

Shaquille O’Neal fouled out in 26 minutes. Dwyane Wade scored just 5 first half points on 2 for 9 shooting. The HEAT went 12-23 at the foul line, their fewest makes and attempts so far this post-season; A sub-par performance for the team, maybe, but not by the subs.

Miami’s bench outscored Washington’s, 36-5. Those 36 points came on 54 percent shooting (15-28). In the first-round against New Jersey the bench was big for Miami. It was even bigger and better Sunday afternoon.

Dooling was wheeling, dealing and scoring. He was impressive and important. It was also his fourth straight double-figure outing in a row, a significant achievement considering this is his first playoff run. You’d never know it.

He scored 20 points on 4-4 shooting in Game 2 against New Jersey. He followed that with a 13 point Game 3 on 6-7 from the field. In the Game 4 clincher against the Nets he added 11 points. Sunday afternoon against Washington he delivered again with 15 points, making 6 of his 9 shots.

“Keyon had another great game,” said Stan Van Gundy. “He is playing the game with a real high confidence level right now. He is shooting the ball great, which is great to see. He has spent a lot of time focusing on his shooting. It’s nice to able to rest Damon (Jones) as much as we did.”

With Jones ailing with a bone bruise to his right heel, Dooling’s contributions have become all the more significant. In Sunday’s Game 1 win, the HEAT was, once again, two-deep at point guard. In these playoffs DJ and Dooling have combined to average 25.2 points on incredible 58- percent shooting. It has been a position of production and strength.

“Dooling has been unbelievable during the playoffs and he knows we need him,” said Dwyane Wade following the series opening win against the Wizards.

“He comes in and gives us that gift of energy that comes with his athleticism. And now he is knocking down shots better than anybody that is playing in the playoffs right now.”

Wade’s right. Dooling has gone 21 for 30 from the field and is shooting and unreal 70 percent in his first five playoff games, still best in the NBA playoffs. He is 20 for his last 26 in his four consecutive double figure scoring games. He reached double figures just 11 times during the entire regular season.

His year long work with talented, young HEAT assistant coach Erik Spolestra, on his once erratic jump shot is paying off huge dividends.

Where he was once relied on for his defense and energy, now Dooling is also bringing points off the bench with him. In his just completed first season with Miami he averaged 5.2 points on 40 percent shooting in 16 minutes a game.

He’s bringing 10.2 points to the table as well as his usual electricity packed into 17 action packed playoff minutes a game.

This post-season success has been a long time coming. Dooling spent his first four NBA seasons as a Los Angeles Clippers and never got to the playoffs. Last spring Keyon watched his former Clipper teammate, Lamar Odom, participate in his first post-season with Miami. Dooling was in the seats at the American Airlines Arena and enjoyed watching Odom and Miami advance to the second round.

Now he’s in the game and a big part of this HEAT team in round two. And off the bench, he’s been second to none.

“This is my best birthday ever,” said Dooling after Sunday’s win, “and on Mother’s day.”

Dooling, from Ft. Lauderdale, had his wife Natosha and his mom, Brenda, among the many, in the Heat’s house watching and enjoying yesterday.

“Usually I’m home fishing on my birthday,” Dooling told the Miami Herald. “Everything I went through in LA prepared me for this moment. The bad times, the injuries, people losing confidence in me. The HEAT took a chance on me. This is my opportunity to show everybody I can play the game on the biggest stage.”

Anyone that knows Dooling is happy for him now. He is one of the most polite and personable individuals to ever wear a HEAT uniform. He grew up watching guys in HEAT uniforms. This is a man that is easy to root for, easier now than ever.

And what was he planning for a birthday celebration after Game 1?

“I’ll go home and watch some film,” he said.

He’s going to like what he sees.
So did the rest of us.


Alonzo Mourning is also playing a significant, off-the-bench, role in these playoffs.

He’s shooting 75 percent from the field so far. He’s made 15 of his 20 shots in the five playoff games and is averaging 9 points a game, almost five rebounds and 1.2 blocks, packed into just under 16 minutes a game.

His block of a Gilbert Arenas dunk late in Sunday’s first quarter was, for me, the signature moment of Miami’s Game 1 win. It was just another meeting at the summit, won by Mourning.

Rasual Butler’s 8 points in 12 minutes off the bench Sunday was his playoff career high. After scoring just two points on 1 for 8 shooting in the Nets series, give Miami’s coaching staff some credit for going back to him in Game 1 against the Wizards.

Rasual twice scored in double figures against Washington during the regular season including his 16 point game (6-9 fg) with seven rebounds and five assists, on December 13th in Miami. The coaching staff remembered and the Butler responded.

The deeper the HEAT goes, the deeper they seem to be.

Sun Sports has the HEAT playoff coverage you do not want to miss. Tuesday, for Game 2, join us for both pre game and post game coverage. Beginning at 6 pm, one hour before tip off, it’s a Playoff edition of Nextel HEAT tonight, hosted by Jason Jackson. As soon as the game ends on TNT, turn back to Sun Sports, for the most extensive post-game coverage, on HEAT tonite Extra presented by your Pontiac and GMC dealers.