There will be no rest for the weary, not with Pat Riley realizing the Miami Heat can’t afford to allow their season and legacy to end the way it did.
The two-time defending champion Heat’s 4-1 dismantling at the hands of the much more fine-tuned and synchronized San Antonio Spurs has been well documented, but Riley knows there is so much more, so many more consequences to what it could ultimately come mean for Heat Nation.
Where the chance for a third straight NBA title is concerned, it is always better to have played and lost than to have not advanced at all, but even the most burning of Heat fans would have to admit their team’s shortcomings where heartlessly exposed against the meticulous and unrelenting Spurs.
If only the Heat could have defended the perimeter the way they have their legacy in the aftermath of the bloodbath that was. In the two weeks since Game 5’s San Antonio clincher, the Heat have already added Shabazz Napier and made adjustments to the way they will almost certainly still be incorporating the Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to the mix.
And orchestrating it all is Captain Riley, he of the seven NBA rings (five as a coach, one each as a player and assistant coach) and more than 40-years of putting in work in NBA circles. But understand, much more than any strategies or tactics, the Heat’s preservation now is solely about gamesmanship.
Within hours of their dethroning, Riley was at a press conference podium lobbying subliminal messages like alley-opp passes to his stars about the virtues of staying the course and doing things based on the Riley principles that brought them all to South Beach to begin with.
Perhaps heeding the message of the messenger, just hours later — with nerves and emotions surely still raw — James, Wade and Bosh all got together to speak their own minds and chart their own course. Say what you will about the Big 3 and the way they came to be, but even the harshest of their critics has to admit they seem to share a bond and loyalty among one another that seems to make them uniquely ordained to share the hardwood together.
And yes, that decree still seems to hold true. It now appears at least Wade and Bosh will take less in salary so that Miami can reinvest it in other player assets, given their now record-setting $55 million in salary cap space.
Can you say Carmelo Anthony and the new and improved Big 4? Certainly, that doesn’t sound as ludicrous as it once did given what the star trio now appears poised to do to make it happen.
The ball is in Riley’s court now and just know he doesn’t miss often.