Tag: Juwan Howard

Miami Heat President Riley reacts after he was introduced during a celebration at the American Airlines Arena after the Heat's NBA Basketball Championship parade in Miami

Pat Riley says don’t expect big changes in Heat roster


Yes, there are questions about Dwyane Wade and if his game is in decline (and how fast he is going down that hill). Yes, there are questions about Chris Bosh’s role within the offense and his value to the team, particularly relative to the big checks he cashes.

But don’t think the Pat Riley is breaking the Heat up.

They are back-to-back NBA Champions and have been to three straight finals, it’s premature to make major moves.

That’s what Riley said, speaking to the Miami Herald.

“I don’t like to change that much, not when you’re winning,” said Riley, who pointed out that Bosh made five plays in the span of 20 to 30 seconds at the end Game 6 to keep the Heat alive in the NBA Finals.

When the team reconvenes in late September, Riley said he hopes 14 of the roster spots to be filled by players who were under contract in the 2013-14 season — the one exception being Juwan Howard, who likely will be replaced by a free agent.

That means they plan to bring back Chris Andersen, but we will see what other teams will offer the Birdman, who is a free agent.

What Riley expects internal improvement to help carry the team.

“We need to improve,” Riley said. “Erik [Spoelstra] and I have already had two conversations about … because we’re a little older, they have to come back leaner, lighter, stronger, quicker and faster, so when you get a little bit older, you’ve got to dedicate yourself to diet and conditioning and training and becoming a better player skill-wise.”

Expect them to make a move to get a little bigger to match up with the Pacers and Bulls, guys like Samuel Dalembert or Jermaine O’Neal are out there.

But the Heat are not making any bold moves this summer. The summer after that… we’ll see.

Heat survive most pressure-packed season of all time


LeBron James wandered around the American Airlines Center court in an apparent stupor – receiving congratulatory handshakes hugs and from Spurs players, surviving a bear hug from Juwan Howard and sharing a moment with Gregg Popovich.

If LeBron looked tired, it’s because he was.

LeBron said he couldn’t sleep the night before Game 7 victory, and he couldn’t fall asleep the afternoon of the game as he usually does, either.

“You’re nervous. You’re excited,” LeBron told NBA TV. “You’ve got anxiety.”

MORE: LeBron ‘stuck with it,’ named 2013 Finals MVP

But LeBron and the Heat overcame that burden, merely their latest in an exhausting three years, and now they have another championship.

The Heat’s challenges were deeper than just a sleepless night and a restless afternoon. No team has faced more pressure in NBA history, and the weight on LeBron’s shoulders was even heavier.

Of course, the Heat brought a lot of it on themselves. From “The Decision” to “Not two, not three, not four…,” LeBron drew even more scrutiny to what would have already been a controversial choice to team with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.

The Heat took their lumps, falling to the Mavericks in the 2011 Finals. And that was especially difficult to endure, considering the Heat received more media attention than any North American professional team ever has. Media outlets completely reorganized their coverage plans to devote more resources to the Heat beat.

MORE: LeBron, Wade stick together to win another title

Miami survived the gauntlet in year two, winning the title. Though that should have ended issues it didn’t – has any NBA champion, let alone a Finals MVP, received more questions about whether he can win the big one than LeBron did this year? – it brought a new level of difficulty.

“The second one is way harder than the first one,” LeBron told NBA TV. “I heard a lot, after I won my first one, they was like, ‘You know, they’re going to start getting easier and easier and easier.’ Absolutely not true. Absolutely not true. This was the hardest one by far.”

Not only were expectations higher and media attention greater, Miami leaned on a blitzing defensive system that, while effective, was physically exhausting. A 27-game regular-season win streak became mentally exhausting too, requiring the Heat to bring a tighter focus than most contenders summon in the dog days of February and March.

MORE: ‘Game 7 is always going to haunt me,’ Duncan says

The win streak also created unreasonable expectations that the Heat could cruise through the playoffs. In reality, Miami need 23 postseason games to outlast the field, a total topped just eight times before. Any thought this was going to be easy was delusional, but perhaps nobody realized how tough the Heat’s road would get near its end.

They could have succumbed after losing Game 3 of the Finals by 36 points – no team that suffered a 35-point loss in the Finals had ever won the series – but they didn’t.

They could have succumbed when they fell behind 3-2 San Antonio – they hadn’t won back-to-back games in the previous month – but they didn’t.

They could have succumbed when they entered Game 7 – San Antonio had never trailed in a Finals series, and only the 1988 Lakers had won two Game 7s as deep into the playoffs as the Heat, which also beat the Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals – but they didn’t.

After surviving their final challenge, the Heat celebrated their championship, and Doris Burke asked Wade what it took to reach this point.

“Everything,” Wade said. “It took everything we had as team.

“We’re a resilient team, and we did whatever it took.”

A few minutes later, LeBron, awoken from his stupor, stood in the locker room under a mist as steady as rain.

“I can’t see,” LeBron said squinting and grinning until someone got him a towel to wipe his eyes.

Several times this season, the Heat could drowned in the pressure, in the attention, in the physical exhaustion. But they never did, and now they’re swimming in champagne.

Spurs aren’t old

San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker celebrates after the Spurs eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies to win the NBA Western Conference final playoff basketball series in Memphis

Go ahead and call the San Antonio Spurs old.

Associated Press

You’ll hear that their pre-game meal has an early-bird special, that their biggest problem in the Finals is that the games are scheduled after their bedtime.

Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated

The core of this team appears not to have changed since the Nixon administration. You half expect if you opened Tim Duncan’s passport, you’d find his age listed as 00.

Lynn Zinser of The New York Times

Don’t believe the narrative. The NBA’s oldest playoff team is not sitting home and waiting for the Finals to begin.

It’s playing the Pacers tonight.

Tim Duncan (37), Manu Ginobili (35) and Tony Parker (31) are old.

The Spurs are not.

They start Kawhi Leonard (21) and Danny Green (25), and Leonard is the third-youngest player to start in these playoffs (behind Evan Fournier and Harrison Barnes). Weighted by minutes played (using Basketball-Reference.com’s ages), the Clippers, Lakers, Knicks, Celtics and Heat have all been older during the postseason than the Spurs.

The Heat are the only team with an average age in the playoffs older than 30.

Playoff teams, especially those that advance deep, tend to be older. The reasons are two-fold. One, it’s rare young players are good enough to win deep into the postseason. Two, veterans near the end their career often sign with contenders and make good teams even older.

But, by those standards, the Spurs’ age is unremarkable. In fact, if their minute distribution holds in the Finals and the win the title, they would be the youngest champion in the last four years.

Save the jokes for Juwan Howard.