The Score, the Key Stat, the Bottom Line: Tuesday Night's ActionDwyane who? Miami is now 8-2 since "Flash" got hurt, has won seven games in a row and has moved into the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Regular 20 Second Timeout readers are not surprised by the Heat's strong play without Wade, which was predicted in this space 11 days ago.
The Score: Miami 88, Utah 86
The Key Stat: Miami overcame a 17 point second half deficit as Shaq had 13 points and nine rebounds in less than 27 minutes and Antoine Walker scored all 13 of his points in the final 11 minutes.
The Bottom Line: Miami now owns the longest current winning streak in the Eastern Conference and is just a half game behind the Washington Wizards, who currently are the first place team in the Southeast Division. The Wizards are reeling, losing seven of their last 10, and Miami can move up to the fourth seed by passing the Wizards and winning the division title.
The Score: Cleveland 124, Sacramento 100
The Key Stat: Cleveland is 3-0 this year when LeBron James does not play and 9-2 without him since he joined the team in 2003-04.
The Bottom Line: Cleveland made up for James' absence with strong performances from Zydrunas Ilgauskas (19 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists), Larry Hughes (25 points, seven assists and six rebounds) and Sasha Pavlovic (25 points, six assists). The Cavaliers have been accused of coasting for most of the season but they have won six straight and own the second best record in the East, trailing Detroit by just two games. Clearly, this team consists of a lot more talent than just LeBron James and the Cavaliers will be a formidable playoff team.
The Score: San Antonio 93, L.A. Clippers 84
The Key Stat: San Antonio is enjoying a 13 game winning streak, the team's longest of the season and the longest active streak in the league.
The Bottom Line: Everyone knows that Dallas is having a tremendous season but the Spurs have a good chance to win 60 games. Last year's playoff series between the two Texas rivals was a down to the wire classic and if they meet this year we can expect more of the same. Although Dallas has the better record, San Antonio is performing better in both point differential and defensive field goal percentage, two very important statistical categories. Regardless of these teams' final records, if both squads are healthy then a playoff series featuring them will be very, very closely contested.
posted by David Friedman @ 1:27 AM