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The Miami Heat have all the ingredients necessary to produce a recipe that will enable them to move up the ladder in the Eastern Conference standings.
So says Heat president Pat Riley.
“We have everything we need,” Riley said at the team’s annual Family Festival at American Airlines Arena, according to the Miami Herald. “We have shot blocking. We 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 has done a great job of developing a system that’s for everybody. And so let’s get on with it.”
Miami (33-30) woke up Sunday morning in the eighth and final playoff spot in the East after taking down the ninth-place Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.
After beating the Pistons, the Heat entered Sunday a comfortable four games ahead of Detroit. They were also just a half-game behind No. 7 Milwaukee, two games back of No. 6 Philadelphia, 2.5 games in back of No. 5 Indiana, three games behind No. 4 Washington and only 3.5 games back of No. 3 Cleveland.
Riley believes Miami has the very real potential of climbing several rungs in the standings in the East.
“I think we can go up the ladder. The teams between four and nine or 10 are like three or four games apart,” he said. “A five-game winning streak can put you up in fourth. It’s great. It’s great. I wish we were up there and not having to fret out a lot of these games at night.
“[Saturday] night was a big win. Beating Philly [on Tuesday] was a big win. We’re not going to win all of our games going on out, but the teams that you have got to beat in this conference, beat them. Let’s just buckle up and enjoy this playoff ride. The crowds have been great. The games have been great. Very, very close games. Some games disappointing. It’s a typical NBA season.”
Riley doesn’t see Miami’s near-.500 record as being inconsistent.
“There’s a lot of parity. I don’t look at it as being inconsistent,” he said. “Sometimes, there’s a lack of continuity through injuries and analytics and how (coach Erik Spoelstra) decides how he’s going to rotate players.
“It was easy for me. I rotated seven guys, eight guys. It was a different game back then. Five guys sat on the bench. Eight guys played. Somebody got hurt or got in foul trouble, I would put a ninth guy in.
“But the old mantra was use eight, rotate seven, play six and trust five. And I always knew who my five were. And I think Coach knows who his five are going down the stretch.”
Riley said that all starts on the defensive end of the floor for the Heat.
“What we need to do, as [Spoelstra] knows, is the mantra of you have to have and develop a consistent disposition defensively to stop people,” he said. “In this game, it’s hard. It’s hard to stop people from getting up shots, all kinds of shots.
“Back in the day, somebody would take some of the shots that players take today, they would be out so fast, they would be sitting at the end of the bench or you would send them in the locker room. That’s the way the game is played. It’s a great game. A lot of fun.”
Riley reiterated he’s thrilled to have Dwyane Wade back in South Beach. The Heat brought their franchise player home in a deadline-day deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers for a future second-round draft choice.
“He’s going to be the big deal,” Riley said. “He’s always been the big deal. I love the fact that he’s back. It’s like having a family member that went away for a year and a half. You didn’t know where they were.
“They were traveling around the world. It’s great to have them back and have Gaby [Wade’s wife Gabrielle Union] and his family back. It’s super.”