ESPN analyst Paul Pierce says Miami Heat not a contender yet

After Miami Heat team president Pat Riley says they are close to competing for an NBA title, Paul Pierce has other thoughts
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A day after Miami Heat team president Pat Riley said he felt they were close to competing for an NBA title, ESPN analyst Paul Pierce thought otherwise.

On Thursday, Pierce said the Heat weren't among his list of contenders. He cited the lack of star power as the reason they are outside the group of top-tier teams. Pierce backed up his opinion by saying no team without a top five player had competed for a championship in the last 30 years except for the Detroit Pistons of the early 2000s.

"If the Miami Heat are close, then every team in the NBA is close," Pierce said while appearing on ESPN's The Jump. "You're close when you have a top five player playing on your team. That is the main ingredient ... No disrespect to Jimmy Butler. He's good but he's not on these other guys' level."

Riley had nothing but praise for the Heat when speaking about this season on a video posted on the team website. Before the coronavirus suspension, they had firm hold on the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Riley appeared confident in a core that features Butler, budding star Bam Adebayo and rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn.

“I don’t have much patience, you know me," Riley said. "And I want to build another championship team. And we’re close. Maybe we need another player, maybe we need less? I don’t know. The point is that we’re right there and we’re a contender, and I’m proud of that.”

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