Pat Riley motivating Heat players

BOSTON -- Pat Riley knows about playing crucial playoff games against the Boston Celtics and how to motivate players.

With the Miami Heat's pivotal Game 4 at hand and the team trying to recover from a poor performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series, the Hall of Famer was putting that experience and skill to use with his team Monday.

Riley, the Heat's president, had private conversations with several players on the floor following the team's shootaround at TD Garden. Players said Riley was relating the historical relevance of the current series and passing on stories for motivation.

"He's a master of timing," Dwyane Wade said. "When you get to talk to someone who's been in those battles, and understand the psyche of that person, you respect it. He's given me a lot of knowledge about the game."

Riley battled the Celtics as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in three different NBA Finals in the 1980s, creating some of the most memorable playoff games in NBA history. Players said stories from those days have made an impression on them in the midst of another playoff struggle.

"We were just just talking about the situation, about the series and about history," LeBron James said about his time with Riley on Monday.

"That man has a lot of history, he's been in a lot of Game 4s, Games 3s, Game 7s. He's seen everything to know about. This is a huge game for us and we're approaching it like it. I've got great respect for the history of the game. I know exactly what Pat's been through in series with Boston."

Brian Windhorst covers the NBA for ESPN.com.