O'Neal, who missed the Heat's final two regular-season games
because of a deep right thigh bruise, did not practice Friday. He
wore practice attire and low-cut sneakers with no socks and watched
the workout from the sideline, but did not have a noticeable limp
when he walked.
"If Shaq can't play, we'll go out there and play with the confidence we always play with, with the guys that we've got," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "This is a team. And we'll try to win it for him if he can't play."
Heat coach Stan Van Gundy expects O'Neal to practice Saturday.
Game 1 against the Nets is Sunday afternoon.
O'Neal did not talk to reporters Friday. Earlier this week, he
said he would play in Game 1.
"Right now, I just have to see how it goes," O'Neal told The Miami Herald earlier this week. "If I can bend it, if I can run and jump, then I'll be ready to go."
O'Neal isn't worried about needing a large amount of preparation for Sunday's playoff opener, saying he just needs a little work on Saturday to get ready.
"The playoff season is a different season," O'Neal told the Herald. "You have to be mentally and physically ready. I just want to be 95 percent physically ready to go.
O'Neal sustained the injury in last Sunday's game against Indiana
when he was kneed by Pacers' forward Jermaine O'Neal while
defending a drive to the basket. He missed the second half of that
game and was placed on the injured list for the final two days of
the regular season.
He missed 5½ of Miami's final eight games of the season; a
stomach virus kept him out of three games and several practices
earlier this month, and he lost up to 15 pounds and some of his stamina.
Van Gundy said Miami -- the East's No. 1 seed -- was not finding
the Shaq saga distracting.
"I sense the team is just trying to get ready to play," Van
Gundy said. "He's a big part of the team. I'm sure there's a
concern and there's a concern for him and his health. I think
they're just getting ready to go."
O'Neal, who did some foul shooting Friday and has been receiving
multiple daily treatments -- averaged 22.9 points and 10.4 rebounds
this season. In Miami's three wins over New Jersey, he averaged
17.0 points and 9.7 rebounds.
Van Gundy was asked if one practice back would be enough
preparation for O'Neal.
"It has to be," he said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.