|Heat stuck in the post-Shaq/pre-Marion era|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 07 February 2008 15:12|
Marion and Marcus Banks, acquired Wednesday in a blockbuster trade with the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Shaquille O'Neal, were not in uniform for Miami's game against Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Heat coach Pat Riley said Marion and Banks were undergoing the first parts of their physicals. The test are expected to carry over into Friday. Riley said he hoped to meet with the pair in the afternoon and maybe introduce the two later in the day.
Marion will likely make his Heat debut on Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Heat entered Thursday's game stuck in a five-game losing skid and losers of 20 of their last 21 games.
Meanwhile, Riley acknowledged he just wanted to get through Thursday's contest against the 76ers before concentrating on how best to use Marion, a four-time All-Star.
``Obviously, Shawn is going to be a big part of what it is we are going to do. He is an integral part of this team. He has to fit in.''
How Marion handles the switch from Phoenix's up-tempo offense to Miami's deliberate game should be interesting.
``He has been playing a style out there where there is a shot every seven seconds,'' Riley said. ``Here, he's gonna think we're all playing in concrete boots.
``He's gonna have to adjust to us a little bit, and we'll have to adjust the rest of the year.''
Marion has NBA career averages of 18.4 points and 10 rebounds. This season, he's averaging 15.8 points and 9.9 rebounds.
Riley said he intends to give Banks plenty of playing time the rest of the season.
Not surprisingly, the bulk of Riley's pregame media gathering was spent talking about O'Neal.
Riley dismissed reports that O'Neal was out of shape as ``unfair criticism'' and ``blog ... fodder.''
O'Neal has averaged 25.6 points and 11.5 rebounds in 16 seasons in the NBA.
This season, plagued by injuries and going through a divorce, he's averaging 14.2 points.
Without O'Neal, and with Alonzo Mourning sidelined with a torn right patella and quadriceps tendon, Riley acknowledged the Heat will become a more perimeter-based offensive team.
``We have to,'' Riley said. ``Right now, if you take a look at our team, we're younger, we have become more flexible and we have two very productive players at their positions in Shawn and (Dwyane) Wade.
``We'll keep adding to that.''
Riley admitted having mixed emotions heading into to the Heat's latest rebuilding project.
``It's a little scary,'' he said. ``Sometimes it doesn't work. I think we've done it three times in Miami now. ... If you have the flexibility and the right players, you can turn it around real quick. Look at Boston.
``You just have to be in the right place at the right time.''