After getting blown out by the below-.500 Los Angeles Lakers, the eighth-seeded Miami Heat rebounded with a nice win over the ninth-seeded Detroit Pistons Saturday night. Earlier today, Heat players and executives participated in the Family Festival.
Pat Riley was upbeat and optimistic about the team. Here are a few quotes of his, from Anthony Chiang of the Palm Beach Post.
The games have been great. Very, very close games. Some games disappointing. It’s a typical NBA season. But we have everything we need. We have shot blocking. We’ve got pick-and-roll bigs who can catch lobs. We’ve got pick-and-roll bigs who can catch layups. We’ve got shooters, defenders. We’ve got a lot of versatility. I think coach [Erik Spoelstra] has done a great job in developing a system that’s for everybody. And so let’s get on with it.
Riley also spoke about his desire to see his team climb in the standings.
I think we can go up the ladder. The teams between four and nine, or 10, are like three or four game apart. And a five-game winning streak could you put you up at fourth.
The Heat president also compared Dwyane Wade’s return to seeing a family member for the first time in a year-and-a-half. He also identified Wade as one of the most sophisticated players to speak about issues in the NBA.
These statements from Riley may be an attempt to justify his decisions last summer — to re-sign the players who helped the Heat nearly earn a playoff seed after falling to 11-30 instead of letting them sign elsewhere in hopes of tanking and drafting a franchise player. Yeah, that decision looked fine when the Heat were in competition for the third seed in the East in January.
But recently, with the Heat clinging to the eighth seed in the East? Those choices don’t seem that good. Even if the Heat hold onto the eighth seed — a higher possibility after Saturday’s win — is a two-year span resulting in a ninth seed finish and a subsequent first-round exit what Riley envisions as his lasting legacy with the Heat?
But Miami has won two big games in the last week — against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Pistons. If the Heat get on a roll, they will climb in the standings and may have a legitimate chance to win a playoff series. Maybe the Heat will prove Riley right.