MIAMI (AP) — Miami Heat president Pat Riley has a message for all the Miami Heat fans that are already looking ahead to the playoffs and a chance for a third straight NBA championship.
“Before everybody gets excited, we’ve got another 24 or 25 games,” Riley said at a Heat charity function on Sunday.
“We’re playing very well right now, but every day you keep ratcheting up what you need to do to get ready for what you know is going to be an incredibly competitive playoff. Right now, you have to keep in mind we have a long way to go.”
The Heat (42-14) will head into Monday’s home game against Charlotte winners of seven straight and 10 of 11. They still have to wait seven weeks before the playoffs.
“Everybody thinks it’s right around the corner. No, a lot of stuff can happen,” Riley said. “We’re in home-court advantage races, not only in the West but in the East. That’s not an objective.
“The objective, I think according to Coach (Erik Spoelstra), is that (we) stay on track with the defense and the rebounding, and I think we’ll be OK.”
Riley touched on several other topics during a brief meeting with reporters.
— On LeBron James: “The fact that he’s a confident player right now, probably the most confident player in the NBA, and it’s not born out of arrogance or born out of anything else other than the main thing, which is winning. He wants to win. That’s all it’s about.”
— On Dwyane Wade, who this season has been managing sore knees: “Dwyane is an 11-year veteran and he knows his way around the block. He knows what he has to do to get himself ready. Again, I go back 11 years with him, and I’ve seen him from the beginning to where he is today. He’s a smarter, more efficient in using his energy.”
— On not signing former Heat swingman Caron Butler, who signed with Oklahoma City on Saturday after being bought out by Milwaukee earlier in the week: “We love Caron. We reached out to him but he was very definitive with what he wanted and I don’t think it’s something we could have promised.”
— On 7-foot center Greg Oden, who has returned after missing nearly four years due to knee injuries: “He’s gone through a lot and I just cross my fingers, and knock on wood every day that he stays healthy. And if he does, he’s going to get better. And if he gets better then we’re going to be better. That’s why we brought him in.”
Riley also sounded content to leave the in-game decision making to Spoelstra.
“Look at me, man. I am full of vitality to have some fun,” Riley said while standing next to wife Chris at the team’s Family Festival charity event. “Six years ago, when I was coaching, I was waking up at 5 a.m. It was dark and I was depressed.”
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