It’s Your Fault Pat Riley!

Lebron is tired. Dwyane Wade can’t score. Chris Bosh is injured.

The Big 3 are in shambles.

The Miami Heat’s crisis goes much higher up than the Big 3 though.

Beat the Heat is becoming all too real for Miami fans. A game 3 shellacking led by Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert has put Miami’s championship aspirations into serious question. When Derrick Rose limped off the floor it appeared a free road to the NBA Final was given to the Heat. Now it looks more like rush hour traffic in Seattle.

On a night where the Heat finally got some secondary scoring, they weren’t able to come close to the Pacers. After the 1st quarter, Miami was outscored by Indiana 77-49.

What’s wrong with the Heat? Well, Pat Riley, you have some explaining to do.

Pat Riley is supposed to be a genius. He’s been more like Stu Jackson and Isaiah Thomas rolled into one since Lebron, Wade and Bosh rolled into town. The Miami Heat are terrible. Their deficiencies have been masked in large part by the most dominant player in the NBA history. Unfortunately for Pat Riley, the King is not Superman.

Most people, including myself, thought that Pat Riley had assembled enough talent to complement his stars. Their core seemed too good and was enough to overcompensate for their glaring weaknesses. The redundancy of 2 ball dominating wing players on the same team wouldn’t matter to an extent where the Miami Heat would be in danger of being knocked out in the 2nd round.

You can throw that gobbledygook down the drain.

Chris Bosh’s injury has shown that the Heat stars should never have been referred to as the Big 2.5. However, his absence in games 2 and 3 has made clear what an awful job Pat Riley has done over the past couple of seasons.

Crystal clear.

The Swiss Army Knife, Mike Miller, was brought in to be the necessary 4th wheel to smoothen the ride all the way to their championship parade. An aging Shane Battier was signed in the 2011 offseason to provide harassing defence and some scoring pop off the bench. Energy center Joel Anthony was signed to a 5 year, $18 million deal in 2010.

Mike Miller hasn’t been able to find his groove. Battier, a career 38% 3-point shooter, shot 33.9% from beyond the arc this season and was an atrocious 0-6 from downtown in game 3 as he started at small forward. Joel Anthony has been riding the pine to start games lately while sharing time with Ronny Turiaf and Dexter Pittman at the 5.

Mike Miller and Shane Battier were deemed shrewd acquisitions at the time. It just hasn’t worked out for the Heat. Riley has made, what appeared to be, solid signings that haven’t turned out as good as expected.

Pat Riley cannot go without blame forever.

While Larry Bird the executive of the year has assembled a team without a superstar that is currently handling Riley’s Heat with ease, Pat Riley sits with his slicked back hair and piercing stare, helpless. He is unable to do anything now. The thing is, it’s not like he has done much with his pet project for the last 2 scrutiny filled years either.

Riley has hoped that he could ride his 3 stars to basketball immortality.

The mastermind hasn’t shown up to work though. He has misevaluated his entire roster. The role players have fit in with the Big 3 about as well as a second cousin twice removed fits in at a family Christmas dinner.

Pat Riley hasn’t made the right moves, whatever those moves should have been. I can’t tell you what Pat Riley should have done because I don’t know.

Remember, I’m not the genius. Pat Riley is.

In theory, great minds make great moves. Pat Riley hasn’t done much out of the ordinary. Battier and Miller were moves everybody could get on board with. Mario Chalmers is an average NBA point guard that shoots an above average percentage from the 3-point line.

Over the past 2 years, the Heat have featured Mario Chalmers, Mike Bibby, Carlos Arroyo, Eddie House and Norris Cole as true point guards. Over the past 2 years, the Heat have featured Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard, Erick Dampier, Jamaal Magloire, Dexter Pittman, Ronny Turiaf and Eddy Curry as true centers.

Not one role player has overachieved for the Miami Heat. Heck, most have underachieved.

Pat Riley deserves some credit for sticking by his inexperienced but talented young head coach in Erik Spoelstra. Of course, Spoelstra hasn’t gotten it done either.

It’s true that because of the salaries of his 3 stars, Pat Riley has had a limited amount of cap space to work with. Even so, the salary cap can’t excuse Riley of his teams’ shortcomings.

The Miami Heat are not done yet. Although, envisioning the Heat team that played in game 3 fighting for a championship is more than a little difficult.

There’s more than enough blame to go around at this point.

But it’s Pat Riley who should be the first person everyone is looking at.

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23 Responses to It’s Your Fault Pat Riley!

  1. Christian says:

    I agree that Pat Riley has not put the right pieces around The Big 3. However, I never thought the combo of LeBron and Wade would work because they both dominate the ball. A big 3 need to have a point, wing, and a big. Having Wade and Bosh would have been fine leaving them with more cap space to build a balanced team.

  2. K-Smoove says:

    Well, when you look at it… No matter what they put in with The Big 3. They just don’t have the firepower of other deeper teams… Chalmers had improved… but others may have dropped their play… And you have two ball hawks in Wade and LeBron… So there’s not much movement..

  3. labatman24 says:

    Yeah I cos-ign most of the post. I don’t think Pat Riley has done a bad job with the heat, but man are their supporting players terrible. I think they expected a lot more out of Mike Miler, Haslem, and Shane Battier. They signed this players based on their rep and all of those guy’s games have fallen off. What sucks for the Heat is that if they losee most ppl with blame Lebron.

  4. Jeff Sack says:


    Good piece, although I disagree with your evaluation of LBJ as the most dominant player in NBA history. I do agree with your assessment of the lack of depth on the roster of the Heat; especially in the front-court. They have NOBODY on their roster that can handle Hibbert when he has a performance as he did Thursday night. Joel Anthony had what for him is an offensive explosion in game three with ten points, but they still fell way short of staying in the contest as Wade was terrible. Haslem is a good bench player; but he is far from a starter on a Championship caliber team. They are FAR from a perfect team; the 2007 Spurs squad, the 2008 Celtics or the 2009 Lakers would have eaten their lunch. They have been one of the top teams in the Association over the last two-years by having James, Bosh and Wade score about 75 points per game, they get another 10 from a Chalmers or a Coles and get enough from their bench to outscore most teams. With Bosh out it shows how shallow their roster really is!

  5. chuckiemag says:

    Good post, but I don’t think Riley should deserve the blame for last night at all. When your “clutch player” scores 5 points and that’s it, it’s not your fault as the President. The role players were good signings at the time, but now they’re underachieving and not getting enough blame. Pat Riley should only get a small share of what’s happened in Miami.

    • Chris Ross says:

      But that’s the thing, the role players were good signings at the time to the general public. However, they haven’t done what they were signed to do, which indicates to me that the Front Office has simply done a poor job of evaluating what these guys are actually capable of and how they fit in with the big 3. In the end it’s the players job to get it done and Wade and Lebron were not good enough yesterday. However, they need more help and Riley has been unable to give them that.

  6. I completely agree with your assessment for the Miami situation. There seems to be something in the water that surrounds the peninsula of Florida . It’s like the GMs in Orlando (My hometown and where I currently reside as well) and Miami (My favorite city on the planet and one of the main reasons I stay in my hometown) historically try to get away with surrounding a couple of superstars with piss-poor players to fill out the roster. Mike Miller wasn’t a great glue guy when they tried this in ORLANDO years ago with a young and healthy Tracy Mcgrady (not that Mike was terrible then by any means…but come on). And Riley used to be smarter than this…He coached teams in New York and Los Angeles that were PACKED with talent. What made him change the TEAM approach to the game in favor of this FANTASY LEAGUE GMing that he is doing nowadays? You can’t surround a “Big Three” with aging vets on their last legs and one or two young players (whose mere presence in the league is a perplexing)…That is backwards from the “Big Three” formulas ANYWAY…You are supposed to get the the three main talents and YOUNG talent with UPSIDE to fill out the roster…Ask the Celtics, Spurs, Mavericks, (and waaaay back in the day) Chicago (Pip and Horace was that young talent at one time) and Detroit etc. I don’t know what’s in the water down here in Florida but these GMs should probably get a Brita filter or have that stuff imported (or maybe it’s the stuff they are importing down here that’s making them make these decisions).

  7. Chris ,

    Here’s my take on this all ! Riles’ assembled this team with ill-fitting pieces but his and Arison’s biggest concern initially wasn’t getting this team to be competitive but making money . Consider that before the arrival of LBJ and Bosh , the Heat had lost in excess of $ 85 million in the two financial years leading up to their arrival. That’s the sort of money that hurts any major NBA franchise no matter what market they’re in.

    However, LBJ has simply proven , he is great in regular season games but come the postseason , he can’t be relied upon to either <i? close out games or take ahold of his team and lead by example . ‘nough said !

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  9. I can certainly see where you are coming from as far as pointing the finger at Riley. My only concern with that, is that the head coach hasn’t made a concerted effort to align his stars in a way they can function smoothly. The GM’s job is to put the pieces in place. The coach’s job is to make them fit. Riley has undeniably left the Heat vulnerable at both the 1 and 5 spots, and it’s proved detrimental at times. But you don’t get within 2 wins of an NBA title (against a team many deemed inferior) with this same team, and now suddenly are terrible. Spoelstra has been rubbing these guys the wrong way almost from the outset, and I feel the people who should shoulder the most blame are the ones on the court, and the ones drawing up the plays. Could Riley have done a better job with role players? Certainly. But in the end, I’d say most of the blame should be harbored by the players and the coaches. Great read, by the way, and I appreciate u checking out!

  10. Honestly, I think you are putting too much stock in last night’s game writing this post. Yes, they got destroyed last night by a team they should beat pretty easily on paper, but that’s why they play the games. To call the Heat terrible is an immediate overreaction to one game, they did win the Eastern Conference last season, win 46 games this year in the short season, and knock out the Knicks rather easily last series. Is Pat Riley perfect? No, he does deserve some of the blame for what could be another early exit for the Heat (anything less than LeBron’s first ring), but I don’t agree that Riley is the first one to call attention to. The players on the court just didn’t produce last night (Wade 5 points is the key example) and last year’s finals LeBron and Wade were the ones who couldn’t get on the same page (not the underachieving reserves). Plenty of blame to go around and I understand why you place the blame on Riley and while it is a refreshing change of view I’m not sure he’s the biggest problem on South Beach.

    Great blog, by the way. I’ll be checking back to see some of your other opinions on the sports world.

    • Chris Ross says:

      When I said the Heat are terrible, I meant aside from the Big 3 they are terrible and I don’t think that can be denied.

      • When you have three guys making near max-contract money it is hard to assemble a bench, and the fact that you and I aren’t really sure what Riley could have done better shows that more of it does lie on what these guys are actually doing on the court as opposed to their expectations. Take a look at the Celtics bench, bunch of guys with even less of a reputation than the guys Riley signed, but with Pierce and Rondo they play up to their expectations. Neither Wade nor LeBron make their teammates better, and I think that is where Bosh’s presence is missed most as he was the second leading rebounder (behind LeBron) while he also stretched the floor with his shooting ability which isn’t bad for a man his size. Players gotta play, and I think Riley did about well a job as he could under the circumstances, but if they don’t win it this year he needs a PG and to replace a few of the older guys.

      • Chris Ross says:

        Of course it’s hard with 3 near max guys, which I do mention in my article. The Celtics have done a perfect job of complementing their core guys with the right role players. I think you’re almost making my point for me by saying that they have a “bunch of guys with even less reputation than the guys Riley signed.” Danny Ainge has perfectly complemented his core guys with members like Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley. The Heat have Miller and Battier most prominently who haven’t played up to expectations, which I am saying is Pat Riley’s mistake for believing that they would fit right in with his core players and play at a high level. It obviously hurts big time to have Chris Bosh out but it’s not like the role players have done much better with Chris Bosh in the lineup as he has been for most of the past 2 seasons.

      • You’re right, I do believe Danny has done a better job than Riley. But I’m also trying to give credit to Pierce and Rondo for making the guys around him better, as part of the struggles with the Heat are that their 2 real stars aren’t capable of doing that (or choose not to). That’s something that is hard for any GM to accept and is not really something they have control over.

      • Chris Ross says:

        Definitely a fair point. There are only so many thingsthat are in a GM’s control and their best players aren’t responding as well as Pat Riley would have envisioned.

      • Jeff Sack says:

        Chris and Barrett;
        Now you are both reinforcing the point that I brought out on my post:
        LBJ is incapable of raising his level of play high enough to carry a team in the Post Season; hence that is why he will never be at the level of Bird, Magic, Michael or Kobe. James knew that when he became a Free Agent; which is why he chose to join D-Wade in South Beach. Wade has been banged up all year, Bosh is now down, but James is complaining how exhausting it is playing the four-spot. To me a MOST VALUABLE PLAYER raises the level of all those playing around him. James does not fit the criteria. Here is another point I would like to throw out there; D-Wade seemed far more mature as a person when he won the Title with Shaq than he does in 2012. Throwing Mike Bibby’s shoe down court is junior high. Just play the gamw and stop trying to play the “BAD-BOY”

  11. Well said, i always felt like everyone was just giving them a ring without having to earn it, it’s not that simple. i think this era of the “Big 3” concept will crash and burn with the ultimate success or failure of the Miami Heat. All you need is 2 big athe rest should be a great compliment to the stars. All the “Big 3” concept does is eat up the salary cap and forces you to sign a bunch of D-League players to fill out your roster.

  12. Hey Chris! Good post. I like what you have to say about Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and Lebron James. I have to say, Pat Riley is considered a genius when he hires the best players in the world and especially when he has handpicked his Miami Heat basketball head coach in Erik Spoelstra. I don’t know what Pat Riley is thinking, but his thinking is that Spoelstra is talented and is talented enough to lead a Miami-Heat led squad by Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. If Riley fails this year and if the Miami Heat are eliminated by the Indiana Pacers, it means serious questions for Riley’s squad and all the moves Riley made to get Shane Battier and Ronny Turiaf and Mike Miller and it is another question mark if he does want Erik Spoelstra back as Heat head coach.

  13. If this season has showed us anything it’s that it is very difficult to win without a floor general. Just refer to the Knicks as a prime example. They have their own ‘Big Three’ with Chandler/Melo/Amare, but were rendered totally ineffective with Mike Bibby and Toney Douglas distributing the ball in the playoffs. Yes Linsanity gave them a nice ride before his torn meniscus but to begin the season with Bibby, a broken down Baron Davis and Toney Douglas at the one, was a recipe for disaster.
    In retrospect, if they don’t grab Lin from Golden State in December, they were not even going to the playoffs. So clearly, some better decisions and moves at PG and C by Riley would have made this team not better, but near invincible.

  14. Good point, CR. Riles’ really isn’t getting any of the blame in the national media. In fact, the only blame I hear placed on him is why he hasn’t taken over for Spoelstra yet.

    This team is too top-heavy, the loss of Bosh hurts and as you mention, the role players’ contribution has been unnoticeable if it weren’t for how bad it’s been.

    All’s not lost yet. Las Vegas still lists them as favorites to win this series, which I think they still will. All it’ll take is them showing up in Game Four.

    And in case they’re reading, they may want to just go ahead and do that.

  15. Some really great ideas here, LeBron playing the four could completely wipe him out and ultimately kill the team this season. If they do not win this year they almost certainly have to do something drastic and Riley will face even more scrutiny. In all honesty he could surround LeBron with six “good” role players and the team would have a better chance of winning the title. Staggering to see the best player in the world, and who an entire generation will know as the best waste his prime after being completely bamboozled.

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