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Heat president Pat Riley 'stunned, angry' over team's playoff exit

MIAMI, June 6 (UPI) -- Pat Riley was "stunned" and "angry" about the way the Miami Heat playoff run ended and plans to be "proactive" to improve the roster, the team president said Monday at a news conference.

Riley, 77, was a lead architect for the team, which earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

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The Heat beat the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Boston Celtics then beat the Heat in seven games to advance to the NBA Finals.

"I definitely feel an obligation to finish this build," Riley told reporters. "If we are three years into this build, I don't want to do another three years of building this team. ... We put together a team that got to the Eastern Conference finals.

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"It was a bitter loss. The dragon hasn't left my body yet from that loss. I was stunned. I was frustrated, angry. I was all of those things for the last week. Now I'm beginning to move past all that."

The Heat held a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals series. The Celtics responded with two-consecutive wins to snatch momentum. They closed out the series with a 100-96 win on the Heat's home court at FTX Arena in Miami.

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All-Star forward Jimmy Butler carried the Heat, as the team struggled to find a secondary offensive threat throughout the run. Injuries to Tyler Herro -- the NBA Sixth Man of the Year, fellow guard Kyle Lowry and poor offensive performances from other players led to the Heat's elimination.

Riley said the team will attempt to bring back free agents P.J. Tucker and Victor Oladipo for next season. He called Tucker a "cornerstone" for the Heat. He also said he will work with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to see if the team can increase center-forward Bam Adebayo's role as a scorer in the offense.

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The NBA legend also didn't rule out the possibility to bring in another star player, but that won't happen if he isn't the "right fit."

"Even if we ran it back [with same roster], we would have a very good team," Riley said. "You have to be very proactive in looking at how you're going to improve. This was a great story that started in 2019.

"In 27 years, we had a start to a number of great stories. This was one of them, when we signed Jimmy Butler and constructed the team from there. "

Riley coached the Heat from 1995 through 2008. He led the team to a title as a coach and executive in 2006. He previously coached the Los Angeles Lakers to four championships. Riley helped construct the Heat's title teams in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

The Heat missed the playoffs just three times over Riley's last 14 years as an executive.

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