The last time the Heat was in the second round of the NBA playoffs, Udonis Haslem and Shaquille O'Neal were a big part of the team. Will history, though a bit altered, repeat itself tonight in Game 2 against the Boston Celtics? Update: Nope.
Haslem has been out since November recovering from foot surgery, and though he has mostly recuperated, coach Erik Spolestra made the decision to keep him on the injured list during Game 1 of the series. But it's increasingly looking like the Miami Heat's cocaptain will make his long-awaited return during the series, possibly as early as tonight.
"Wouldn't be entirely surprised to see Udonis Haslem at least in uniform Tuesday, even if he doesn't play," writes the Miami Herald's Israel Gutierrez. "He's itching to play, and he says he's not feeling any lingering effects from his surgically repaired left foot the day after practicing."
As for the Celtics' Shaq, rumors of his return have been sputtering around for the past three weeks, but it seems he too could return during the series, also as early as tonight.
"If not, I would say Game 3," Boston coach Doc Rivers says. "He's feeling a lot better."
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Not that we expect Shaq to make that much of a difference. The guy hasn't been a big postseason presence since, well, when he was wearing a Heat jersey.
Considering he was the guy who helped Dwyane Wade and the Heat win their first NBA championship, and failed to help LeBron James win one in Cleveland last season, it certainly makes for an interesting return drama-wise.