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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Shaq Diesel Needs Repairs, Will Miss Four to Six Weeks

Shaquille O'Neal's knee injury is more serious than initially thought and he will be out of action for six to eight weeks. He has a tear in the cartilage in his left knee that will require surgery. O'Neal missed 23 regular season games last season and will likely be out at least that many games before he is able to return to the lineup. The Miami Heat got off to a slow start with O'Neal in and out of the lineup and don't figure to post a good record in his absence; as I noted last week, the Heat went 42-17 in 2005-06 when Shaq played but only 10-13 without him. It will be very interesting to see how Dwyane Wade, Coach Pat Riley and the rest of the Heat respond to this challenge; Friday night's performance by the Heat was a solid "F": the New York Knicks waxed them 100-76 in Miami, the Heat's third straight home loss. Miami shot only .363 from the field and got outrebounded 46-40. Wade was solid (20 points, six assists) but hardly dominant.

Miami will have to learn how to survive without Shaq for an extended period and then, in the middle of the season, figure out how to reintegrate him back in the lineup. Meanwhile, this is an opportunity for teams like Cleveland or New Jersey to make a push to secure a commanding lead for the Eastern Conference's number one seed.

posted by David Friedman @ 12:21 AM

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