Pat Riley: Give Danny Some Credit
MIAMI - Pat Riley understands how a franchise can step on the gas pedal and pull into the fast lane. He was the one who got Shaquille O'Neal from the Lakers to the Heat. That move was key in getting Miami from 42 to 59 wins in the first season and to an NBA championship in the second.
The Celtics' move for Kevin Garnett might some day be seen in similar terms.
``They built a franchise that had seven, eight, nine pretty good assets, but those assets weren't showing the kind of progress in winning,'' Riley said after Heat practice yesterday in preparation for tonight's game against the Celts. ``They were showing development. The players were getting better and better, but it wasn't translating into wins.
``I think that's how you get good. I mean, you've got to get real bad for a while. Sometimes you don't have to get bad for a long period of time, but then you get enough players to be able to make the moves. We were very fortunate that Shaquille O'Neal was on the market. You know, very rarely does a player like that or Garnett or Ray Allen - those kinds of guys never come on the market, very rarely. And they were able to get two of them, and that's why it's turned. And they were able to keep enough other players to make it work, so they've had an incredible year so far.''
But the Celtics still have a long way to travel.
``Winning the title is what it's all about,'' Riley said. ``We rolled the dice, and we did that. We won the championship. Now we've got to get back on track. But it's a lot of fun when you're going through it.''
In addition to bringing Garnett and Allen to play with Paul Pierce, the Celts also are benefiting from Heat exile James Posey, who left as a free agent last summer.
``He's an all-purpose, savvy warrior,'' Riley said. ``That's what James is. He's a cold-blooded shooter at the end of a game. He's going to make them if he's open. And he rebounds. He does a lot of great things. He's a defender, an energy guy, a 3-point shooter. He does everything. That's one of the reasons I think they're so successful is James has given them a big lift coming off the bench.''
The Celtics are listing Garnett as day-to-day with his abdominal strain, and while there is word some would like to keep him out longer to be more certain of his recovery, more will be known at this morning's shootaround.
Looking at life without Garnett, coach Doc Rivers said, ``It's different because you don't have a post to go to out of timeouts. We were unbelievable out of timeouts (in Sunday's loss to Orlando), but we had to be way too creative.''
Added Kendrick Perkins: ``He's our go-to guy in the post. This team is really kind of built around him.''
No impulsive moves
The Celtics still are actively investigating a potential acquisition at point guard, but don't expect them to go hard after just any experienced dribbler. Danny Ainge remains wary of upsetting what's already in place in this process, so he appears to be moving cautiously.
``Whenever you bring in a new player, it can change roles and it can change the mood,'' the Celtics boss said. ``All of a sudden, things are different and maybe you don't have what you've had.
``We've gotten contributions from everybody, but the nine guys that are playing a lot - from Tony (Allen) to Posey to Eddie (House) to Big Baby (Glen Davis) and Leon (Powe) - they've all contributed in a big way to our winning. But especially Eddie and Posey who have been doing it consistently. We would have at least a handful more losses without them on the court. So my feeling is that when you have a specific weakness on your team, there's a lot of ways to fix it. And by going to get other players, you can lose one of your strengths. You have to be very careful with that.''