DALLAS -- More Shaq. More Rileyball. A whole lot less finesse.
Those are the big ideas in the Miami Heat's plan for Game 2 of the NBA finals tonight. If coach Pat Riley's club can execute it, this championship series could become a different kind of ugly.
Now that the opening-night jitters have dispersed for the first-time finalists after the Dallas Mavericks' unattractive, unsatisfying 90-80 win in Game 1, both teams see Game 2 as a chance to start over with a better scheme.
Before their workout Saturday, the Heat predicted they'll get a devastating performance from Shaquille O'Neal, who had 17 points against constant double-teams in the opener. Shaq's backup, Alonzo Mourning, all but guaranteed a return to inside-out offensive domination.
The Heat also promised a more physical overall effort that might even evoke memories of the Riley-coached teams that shoved and bullied their way through the NBA in the 1990s, when the "Rileyball" moniker evolved to describe them. Riley publicly stayed quiet on his plans, but his players know it's time to get mean.
"We did give up too many layups, so we have to do a better job -- foul, go for the ball, make them go to the free-throw line," said Dwyane Wade, who took a few hard shots from the Mavs in the opener. "I'd rather them shoot free throws than give up layups. ... I don't think we made it a finals Game 1. I think it was a regular playoff Game 1. Just be a little bit more aggressive."
Along with four championships in Los Angeles and an entertaining run with the Knicks, one of Riley's NBA legacies is the promotion of a physical, sometimes mean-spirited style of play that got results.
Miami has won during this playoff run largely with steady physical efforts against opponents who couldn't match their consistency. Miami knows it might need to get tough against the Mavericks, who have been able to adjust to any style in the playoffs -- and then play it better than their opponents, from San Antonio's defensive groove to Phoenix's hard-charging offense.
"If they step it up and play more aggressively, we've got to be ready to match it," said Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse, who already got a three-stitch cut on his nose from O'Neal in Game 1. "We know what a team like that can do. They've got tough guys, and their coach is a tough guy. We're going to be ready."