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Shaq on Miami Heat: 'This one is a real season'

Did the Miami Heat have an advantage last year because of the lockout-shortened regular season?

Mike Ehrmann

Shaquille O'Neal may have issued some criticism toward the Miami Heat by questioning the legitimacy of their NBA title last year, which came in the wake of a lockout-shortened regular season. Here's what O'Neal had to say to the Sun Sentinel:

"Last year, I think the Heat had the advantage, because against guys like LeBron, D-Wade, 50 games, they're going to dominate pretty much every time. But 80 games, anything can happen."

Shaq's math may be a little off here (the season was 66 games long last year), but his bigger point is that things will be tougher for the Heat this season. "It's all about their health," he said, "because this season as compared to last season, this one is a real season." Already this year, Dwyane Wade has missed a few games due to injury.

Still, the Heat are on a good path to a repeat so far. They are 10-3, and have won four games in a row. O'Neal understands the difficulty of repeating a title performance. The year after he and Wade won a title with the Heat in 2006, Miami was bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

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Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.