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Heat”s Wade making name for himself

Associated Press

MIAMI – On his first day in Miami last summer, the newly acquired Shaquille O’Neal wanted to stop a controversy before it started.

“It’s Dwyane Wade’s team,” O’Neal said.

Apparently, he wasn’t kidding.

Wade has been dazzling during this postseason, carrying the scoring load for the Miami Heat – who finished off their second straight playoff sweep Saturday night, ousting Washington 99-95 in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Wade had 42 points in the series-clincher, 22 in the third quarter when he was a perfect 7 for 7 from the floor and 8 for 8 from the foul line during Miami’s 40-25 momentum-swiping run.

His heroics assured the Heat at least a full week off before opening the East finals against either Indiana or Detroit – a critical rest period for Miami, which has gone without the injured O’Neal in each of the last two games because of a nagging thigh bruise.

“I can use this break just as much as anybody,” Wade said Saturday night.

Heat coach Stan Van Gundy gave his club Sunday and Monday off. They’ll return to the practice floor Tuesday, when they’ll begin walking the fine line of trying to stay sharp while getting O’Neal, Wade and other nicked-up players some time to heal their pains.

The Pistons and Pacers don’t want to see Wade get any better.

He’s averaging 28.6 points, 8.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks in the postseason. In the eight games, he’s scored 30 or more points five times.

“He’s one of the best right now,” Washington guard Gilbert Arenas said. “He’s done a great job of taking his team on his back.”

Added Wizards forward Antawn Jamison: “I tip my hat off to the young man. I’m a big fan. I respect his game and what he’s done, especially with the Big Fella hurt. … To me, he’s the brightest star so far.”

Still, the Heat know that they cannot win the franchise’s first NBA title if O’Neal isn’t healthy.

“We know he’s going to come back hungry and mad,” Wade said. “And everybody knows what a mad Shaq is like.”

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