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7 MIAMI HEAT
Ian Thomsen
October 30, 2000
No 'Zo means the heat's on $86 Million Man Brian Grant, as well as some aging vets, to fill the void
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October 30, 2000

7 Miami Heat

No 'Zo means the heat's on $86 Million Man Brian Grant, as well as some aging vets, to fill the void

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Projected Lineup

STARTERS

PVR*

1999-2000 KEY STATS

SF

Anthony Mason

66

11.6 ppg

8.5 rpg

4.5 apg

0.90 spg

48.0 FG%

PF

Brian Grant

38

7.3 ppg

5.5 rpg

0.51 spg

0.44 bpg

49.1 FG%

C

Duane Causwell

218

2.6 ppg

1.9 rpg

0.64 bpg

54.1 FG%

68.4 FT%

SG

Eddie Jones

16

20.1 ppg

4.8 rpg

4.2 apg

2.67 spg

37.5 3FG%

PG

Tim Hardaway

68

13.4 ppg

7.4 apg

2.9 rpg

0.94 spg

38.6 FG%

BENCH

PVR*

1999-2000 KEY STATS

G-F

Dan Majerle

132

7.3 ppg

4.8 rpg

3.0 apg

1.29 spg

36.2 3FG%

G

Anthony Carter

184

6.3 ppg

4.8 apg

2.5 rpg

1.18 spg

39.5 FG%

F

Don MacLean

267

2.6 ppg

1.4 rpg

36.7 FG%

33.3 3FG%

66.7 FT%

C

Todd Fuller

271

3.3 ppg

2.7 rpg

0.20 bpg

41.8 FG%

60.4 FT%

F-G

Bruce Bowen

288

2.8 ppg

1.4 rpg

37.1 FG%

46.6 3FG%

58.1 FT%

New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 113)

Pat Riley, coach of four NBA champions and winner of 16 division titles in 18 years, thrives on challenges. With the powerful Lakers he demanded three-peats. With the Knicks he rebuilt a floundering franchise by instilling a sense of tenacious dedication. As for the Heat...well, this year anyway, it appeared only the Western Conference champion would be standing between Riley and his fifth title. His off-season acquisitions of Eddie Jones, Brian Grant and Anthony Mason, combined with the re-signing of floor leader Tim Hardaway, made Miami the runaway favorite in the Eastern Conference.

Then, at the start of training camp, Riley lost arguably the conference's most dominant player, center Alonzo Mourning, who will sit out the season while undergoing treatment for focal glomerulosclerosis, which can lead to kidney failure. Most coaches in the same position would act as if they were the ones with the ailing kidneys. Not Riley. His personal concerns for Mourning aside, the Heat coach behaves as if he's every bit as comfortable being a mere contender as he had being the heavy favorite. "Now we're pushing forward and trying to retool on the run," he says.

True, Riley might not look so buoyant if the Knicks hadn't traded Patrick Ewing. Miami will remain a power because few conference rivals are capable of exploiting the absence of Mourning. In Grant and Mason the Heat still have a strong low-post presence, a rarity in the East these days. Jones gives them an athletic scorer and defender on the perimeter, and Hardaway is still one of the game's better clutch shooters.

How far Miami goes in the postseason will depend largely on the health of Grant and Hardaway, who were hampered by injuries last year. When Grant's agent, Mark Bartelstein, asked his client about the possibility of joining the Heat this summer, Grant initially wanted no part of it. "My first thought was, 'I'm not going to Miami,' " says the injury-prone forward, who hasn't played more than 63 games in any of the last four seasons. "You hear so many stories. Would I be able to get up to the level Riley commands of us? Is my body going to be able to hold up to that kind of commitment?"

Riley spent three hours with Grant before making the sign-and-trade deal that brought the 28-year-old forward to Miami. "He sensed my concerns," Grant says. "He told me, 'I'm not as tough as I used to be.' " Grant believes he's more likely to avoid injury this season because of his improved conditioning. "Instead of holding back and protecting my body, I'm pushing through it," he says.

In Mourning's absence, the 6'9", 250-pound Grant will have to play the pivot more often than he anticipated, spelling Duane Causwell. At least he's no longer in Portland, where he frequently had to defend against the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan. For the Heat to make an extended postseason push, older players such as Hardaway (34), Mason (33) and Dan Majerle (35) will also have to play more prominent roles than had been expected.

As a result of his off-season workouts with Mourning's personal trainer, James Lloyd, Hardaway arrived at training camp in his best shape in years. In trying to create better chemistry on the court, he has also been a more vocal floor leader. "It's going to be a slow process," says Hardaway, who signed a one-year deal that could pay him up to $14 million, "because everybody came into camp thinking that we were going to have the whole team together."

Riley, for one, isn't giving up on this season. "There's still enough talent here to win a lot of games," he says.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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