MIAMI -- Pat Riley knows what people are saying about his team. The Miami Heat are done, finished, too old and don't have enough talent.
|The Heat's 0-1 start to the season is 'very disappointing' to Pat Riley. (Getty Images)|
"Very disappointing way to start the season, obviously," Riley said.
The Heat are only 0-1, but it could be a long year, especially starting without Dwyane Wade following his offseason shoulder and knee surgeries. Wade is expected back before the end of November, but what kind of team will he find?
Shaquille O'Neal is 35 and near the end of his Hall of Fame career. He needs players around him to make things happen. Otherwise, he'll find more stat lines like Thursday night's: six shots for nine points, none in the first half.
O'Neal was in early foul trouble and constantly double-teamed. When he passed back out and trusted his shooters, he found little help.
"Some of the guys have to take it personal when a guy doubles me," O'Neal said. "I would like to get way more than six shots, especially if we're going to win with Dwyane out."
Ricky Davis, recently acquired in a trade from Minnesota, had 23 points in his debut, Udonis Haslem added 14 points and 10 rebounds and Jason Williams had 11 points and nine assists. But the Pistons toyed with the Heat, possibly showing the difference between a contending team and a fading one.
Riley's frustration was evident. He talked about the Heat failing to stop Tayshaun Prince, who had a career-high 34 points and 12 rebounds, scoring "on the same play we were talking about for three days in practice." The Heat also couldn't find an answer for the Pistons once they went to a zone defense.
But Riley still has faith. And he laughs at people who think the Heat won't be successful this season.
"Everybody's just ragging on us," Riley said. "We really are chopped liver this year, in the media and all the prognosticators, all the experts and everybody who's picking says we're done."
Riley spoke about Wade coming back and the team coming together. He also doesn't believe O'Neal is too old and that there is enough talent in place following the trade to acquire Davis and Mark Blount from Minnesota for Antoine Walker, Michael Doleac and Wayne Simien.
Riley believes that in time, the Heat will not only be a contender for the Eastern Conference title but for the championship as well.