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Charlotte Hornets

Heat off to the second round, and Deng a big reason why

Luol Deng's role with the Miami Heat changed out of necessity in February, when the team lost Chris Bosh for the second consecutive season to a blood clot at the All-Star break.

It initially seemed like desperation.

It's looking more like brilliance now.

Deng was one of many heroes for the Heat in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. It could be argued that he was the team's most consistent — or maybe even best — player in the seven games it took for Miami to oust Charlotte and move on to a second-round matchup that starts on Tuesday against Toronto.

"Losing Chris was a big blow for this team," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said...