Monday, October 24, 2005

FOLLOW THE TRAIL AS SET BY THE LEADERS

More or less, the Heats’ performance this season was much like last season. This season they won the Southeast by 14 games and went 15-1 within the division. Had President Pat Riley retained most of his roster in spite of choosing for a daring offseason change that could have either put the Heat over the top in the Eastern Conference or would have prove to be a bad chemistry trial. After Riley’s team finished a few plays away from reaching the NBA Finals, he added Antoine Walker, Gary Payton, Jason Williams and James Posey and let the Heat's top long-range shooters in starters Eddie Jones and Damon Jones and reserve Rasual Butle go. He probably failed to trade for a second basketball, as a result his club teamed with offensive talent -- Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal. The team managed to survive the refurbishment. Considering the competition between Stan Van Gundy and Riley, the Heat's favorable November schedule -- or an extended run of poor play would only stimulate the conjecture about Riley's replacing Van Gundy. Van Gundy will need to be a tactician. He would have to persuade Payton and Walker, two cocksure veterans who have combined for 1,852 starts in 1,873 career regular-season games, to embrace reserve roles. He would have to keep the moody Williams in line if the point guard sits in crunch time as he often did in Memphis, and above all would have to become that much capable that he should be able to win big in the regular season while holding the 33-year-old center's minutes in check.

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