Sport Pat Riley on Lakers' NBA Finals win over Heat: 'There will be always be that asterisk'

03:50  25 october  2020
03:50  25 october  2020 Source:   sports.yahoo.com

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However, Miami Heat team president Pat Riley has come forward to express his belief that the 2020 title will The Los Angeles Lakers took home what some have called the hardest NBA championship to win in “They beat us fair and squarely. But there will be always be that asterisk ; if we had Bam

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The Los Angeles Lakers are NBA champions, and there is little reason to think that title wasn’t earned. The team was dominant before the COVID-19 hiatus, then looked similar dominant in the NBA playoffs at Disney World.

However, Miami Heat president Pat Riley has something to say about the one series the Lakers didn’t win in five games.

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In an interview with the Miami Herald, Riley was asked about the Heat’s six-game Finals loss. While he praised the Lakers and said they beat the Heat “fair and squarely,” he also used the word “asterisk.”

Specifically, Riley said he wondered what would have happened if the Heat had Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic at 100 percent:

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Miami HEAT President Pat Riley speaks about our NBA Finals run in the Bubble, the NBA Draft, Free Agency outlook and what to expect on the court next season. These choices will be signaled to our vendors participating in the Transparency and Consent Framework. Click here to see our cookie policy.

It’s no secret: Pat Riley and the Miami Heat are targeting the 2021 offseason to add one more superstar to the roster, via free agency or trade. That next thing — someone to pair with team leader Jimmy Butler — either comes at the next trade deadline (whenever that is ) or the following offseason.

Reflecting on the six-game Finals loss, he said: “I would like to see what it would be like with everybody whole. We’ll get our chance again. The Lakers have the greatest player in the game today in LeBron [James] and Anthony Davis.

“They beat us fair and squarely. But there will be always be that asterisk; if we had Bam and Goran 100 percent — Goran was our leading scorer [entering the Finals] — it might have gone to a seventh game.”

The Heat lost both Adebayo and Dragic to injury in Game 1 of the Finals. Adebayo sustained a neck strain that kept him out until Game 4, while Dragic was out until the series-deciding Game 6 with a torn plantar.

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Even when each player returned, neither looked 100 percent upon returning. Given that the pair were in the Heat’s top 3 in both points and assists per game during the regular season (Adebayo led the team in rebounds as well), that was a big loss for the Heat.

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a group of people standing around each other: It might have been a different series with a full-strength Miami Heat. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) © Provided by Yahoo! Sports It might have been a different series with a full-strength Miami Heat. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

However, even if you accept the premise of a full-strength Heat being capable of beating the Lakers — the Heat aren’t exactly alone in losing an NBA Finals with significant players sidelined. Just look at last season, when the Golden State Warriors fell with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson missing games. There was also the Cleveland Cavaliers falling in the 2015 Finals after losing Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.

Even the Lakers might have had an excuse this year with Avery Bradley’s opt-out due to the pandemic, though that was obviously less impactful than the Heat’s losses.

It’s tough losing an NBA Finals with injury-created what-ifs, but we’d have to crank out quite a few more asterisks if that’s the standard we’re setting for championship legitimacy.

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