Eastern Conference top seed Miami and Western second seed San Antonio easily notched victories Sunday to begin play in the second round of the National Basketball Association playoffs.
The Miami Heat cruised to a 105-86 win over the Washington Wizards in their conference semifinal contest in Miami. Dwayne Wade scored 20 points and Shaquille O'Neal added 19 for the Heat. The Wizards rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit to pull within two points by the half. But the Heat quickly surged ahead in the second half.
Miami owns a home-court playoff edge throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. Game two of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday, again in Miami.
The San Antonio Spurs led by 27 points at half-time on their way to a 103-81 rout of the visiting Seattle SuperSonics. Tony Parker led with 29 points, and Tim Duncan added 22 for the Spurs. Game two is Tuesday in San Antonio.
In Monday's NBA playoff action, the Indiana Pacers play the reigning champion Detroit Pistons, and the Dallas Mavericks face the Phoenix Suns in the opening games of their second round series.
Meanwhile, Canadian guard Steve Nash has been selected as the National Basketball Association's Most Valuable Player for the past season.
The decision was first reported Friday, but the official announcement Sunday detailed the balloting by a panel of 127 sports writers and broadcasters in the United States and Canada. Nash received 1,066 points to edge Shaquille O'Neal by 34 points in the fourth-closest margin since the media began determining the winner 24 years ago.
Nash was born in South Africa and is a nine-year NBA veteran. He led Phoenix to a season-best 62 victories in his first year with the Suns. Nash is the first player to lead the league in assists and be named MVP since Earvin "Magic" Johnson in 1987.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.