Where's Pat Riley now that we really need him?
Cloistered in his South Beach bunker, no doubt, blessedly liberated from all those "skirmishes,'' which is one of the Heat's el presidente's favorite terms to describe the distractions of daily life.
But we need a little Riley. We'll take another "statement" at this point. We'll even take an email or a text ripping the Celtics' video coordinator.
We need something to spice up an event that should, on its own, have plenty of zing -- a Celtics-Miami game. The two teams meet Friday night in Miami on the final weekend of the regular season -- and there is absolutely zero buzz about the game.
This is where Riley could come in handy. He stoked the Miami-Boston embers a couple weeks back (March 29) when he issued a statement telling Celtics GM Danny Ainge to "shut the (naughty word) up" and worry about his own team. This was a day after Ainge said LeBron James should be embarrassed to be complaining about the officiating. This was after James had posterized Jason Terry as the Heat were on their way to their 23nd straight win, a 105-103 victory in Boston on March 18. James drew a taunting technical on the play.
What made Riley's statement so newsworthy is that he is about as accessible as Kevin Garnett in the offseason. According to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Riley has made public comments only once since July -- at a team charity fundraiser last Sunday. That's it. He went the paper route in ripping Ainge, who is as accessible as Riley is cosseted.
But the Mount St. Riley eruption really was driven by his visceral hatred of the Celtics. And it was because the ever-annoying Ainge, one of the game's great whiners as a Celtics player, had the temerity to call out LeBron for crying about the officiating. But mostly it was the Celtics for Riley. He just hates them. Has for a while.
A request was sent in Thursday to the Heat to see if Riley was interested in tossing another Molotov cocktail prior to the last regular-season meeting between the two teams. It went nowhere. Big surprise.
We're going to have to stick with the conventional pre-game evaluations and assessments and, frankly, that is a thankless task because there is very little we can do to hype this game. Unless Miami cares about winning a season series from the Celtics -- and one figures that has to be pretty low on Erik Spoelstra's to-do list (but maybe not Riley's) -- a win has no bearing on the Heat's mission.
Miami already has clinched the NBA's best record. Spoelstra has been resting his stars on a regular basis. In the Heat's win Wednesday in Washington, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem all sat out -- and the Heat won anyway. Wade, who has missed the past six games and eight of the past 10 with what the club says is a sore right ankle, told the Associated Press on Thursday that he expects to play Friday night, but his coach might have other ideas. The status of LeBron, said to be bothered by a sore hamstring, is up in the air.
The Miami game generated 0.00 percent buzz in Boston. Not a single question was asked about the game following Wednesday night's loss to the Nets. More to the point, when Doc Rivers called into WEEI Thursday morning for his weekly appearance on the station, he was asked about a lot of things -- but not one conversation revolved around the Miami game.
There were questions about golf, about Rivers having taken the team to see a private screening of the new Jackie Robinson movie, "42," about the Nets game. Rivers even revealed a humorous story in which Ainge urged him to get ejected from a game so he could watch Tiger Woods make a charge.
But Miami? Nada.
After Rivers hung up, the Celtics announced that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would both not play in the Miami game. They could also be spectators in Orlando on Saturday night.
No KG. No Pierce. Maybe no Wade and LBJ. Great! The Jordan Crawford Fan Club should be excited about this one. Most everyone else? Not so much.
It sure didn't look this way when the schedule came out. Boston-Miami in Game No. 79? Surely this would mean something. A battle for Eastern Conference supremacy? A playoff preview that, you know, actually was a playoff preview?
But not even the NBA's vaunted hype machine can hold this one up to be anything other than it really is -- a glorified exhibition. Maybe that's how Riley sees it as well -- and what consummate provocateur would want to waste his `A' material on a game that no one really cares about?