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Heat's new look in limbo as team awaits physicals for Marion, Banks

PHILADELPHIA -- The Miami Heat are stuck in the post-Shaq
and pre-Shawn Marion era at least for a few more days.

Marion and Marcus Banks, acquired Wednesday in a blockbuster
trade with the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Shaquille O'Neal, were
not in uniform for Miami's game against Philadelphia on Thursday
night.

Heat coach Pat Riley said Marion and Banks were undergoing the
first parts of their physicals. The test are expected to carry over
into Friday. Riley said he hoped to meet with the pair in the
afternoon and maybe introduce the two later in the day.

Marion will likely make his Heat debut on Sunday against the Los
Angeles Lakers.

The Heat lost 101-84 Thursday, dropping their sixth straight and
losing for the 21st time in 22 games.

Meanwhile, Riley acknowledged he just wanted to get through
Thursday's contest against the 76ers before concentrating on how
best to use Marion, a four-time All-Star.

"I think when Shawn gets here and Marcus gets here, we'll be
very offensive-minded," Riley said before his Heat (9-39) faced
the Sixers (20-30).

"Obviously, Shawn is going to be a big part of what it is we
are going to do. He is an integral part of this team. He has to fit
in."

How Marion handles the switch from Phoenix's up-tempo offense to
Miami's deliberate game should be interesting.

"He has been playing a style out there where there is a shot
every seven seconds," Riley said. "Here, he's gonna think we're
all playing in concrete boots.

"He's gonna have to adjust to us a little bit, and we'll have
to adjust the rest of the year."

Marion has NBA career averages of 18.4 points and 10 rebounds.
This season, he's averaging 15.8 points and 9.9 rebounds.

Riley said he intends to give Banks plenty of playing time the
rest of the season.

Not surprisingly, the bulk of Riley's pregame media gathering
was spent talking about O'Neal.

Riley dismissed reports that O'Neal was out of shape as "unfair
criticism" and "blog ... fodder."

O'Neal has averaged 25.6 points and 11.5 rebounds in 16 seasons
in the NBA.

This season, plagued by injuries and going through a divorce,
he's averaging 14.2 points.

Without O'Neal, and with Alonzo Mourning sidelined with a torn
right patella and quadriceps tendon, Riley acknowledged the Heat
will become a more perimeter-based offensive team.

"We have to," Riley said. "Right now, if you take a look at
our team, we're younger, we have become more flexible and we have
two very productive players at their positions in Shawn and
[Dwyane] Wade.

"We'll keep adding to that."

Riley admitted having mixed emotions heading into to the Heat's
latest rebuilding project.

"It's a little scary," he said. "Sometimes it doesn't work. I
think we've done it three times in Miami now. ... If you have the
flexibility and the right players, you can turn it around real
quick. Look at Boston.

"You just have to be in the right place at the right time."