Riley last coached in Miami on April 13, 2003, and watched the Heat drop a 94-86 decision to the Boston Celtics. Riley was named team president at the end of that season and replaced by Stan Van Gundy.
But Van Gundy, citing the need to spend more time with his family, resigned Dec. 12 and paved the way for Riley’s coaching return. The Heat are 3-1 under their new coach, but also are coming off their first loss.
“A guy like that gets it going, what are you going to do?” Riley said. “I’ve seen too many players like him. At times, you’re helpless.”
The Heat has reached 100 points in all four games under Riley and five straight overall. Miami is 9-3 this season when scoring 100 points.
Atlanta has lost eight straight to Miami, but may be catching the Heat at the right time. The Hawks have won four of five after starting the season with 16 losses in 18 games.
“Oh, man, we’ve been playing good basketball here of late. We’re knocking down shots and playing defense,” Johnson said.
Johnson was named the league’s Eastern Conference player of the week Monday after averaging 25.3 points per game, including a career-high 36 in a 122-111 win Friday over the New York Knicks.
Johnson will be trying to score at least 30 points three straight games for the first time in his career. He is averaging just 11.0 points in 10 games versus Miami.