Riley insists that there is a “long way to go” this season before a ‘three-peat’.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley has urged fans to remain cautious as expectations continue to build toward a third successive title, and he has reminded everyone that there is a “long way to go”.
The defending champions have started to find their feet in recent weeks, improving to 42-14 for the season through an active seven-game winning streak, which has allowed them to close the gap on the Indiana Pacers at the top of the Eastern Conference.
LeBron James continues to improve his numbers and efficiency, while coach Erik Spoelstra will be delighted to have seen increased intensity on the defensive end as we reach the business end of the regular season.
However, Riley is keen to control expectations and has reminded fans that there are still 24 games to go in the season before the Heat even begin to start thinking about the playoffs.
“Before everybody gets excited, we’ve got another 24 or 25 games,” Riley said at a Heat charity function on Sunday, as reported by ESPN.
“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.”
Riley conceded that while they are still in the race to obtain home-court advantage, both in the East and overall, he believes that isn’t coach Spoelstra’s main objective.
He understands that the two-time NBA championship-winning coach wants to see the defense and rebounding stay on track, as they are key elements of what will make Miami successful again this season.
The Heat president also addressed various topics concerning the franchise, including praising James for his mentality of always wanting to win, while he also believes that Dwyane Wade has learnt from experience on how to better manage his injuries and conserve his energy.
Riley admitted that he didn’t feel the Heat could promise free agent Caron Butler what he wanted which is ultimately why he opted to join the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he still has big hopes for center Greg Oden who continues to battle his way back to full fitness and will potentially play a key role in the playoffs.