2006 EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS MIAMI, FLORIDA May 26, 2006 COACH FLIP SAUNDERS Q. I was wondering what must you do to impose your will to begin this game, Game 3? FLIP SAUNDERS: Well, the biggest thing is the teams that have gotten off to a great start have made shots. Sometimes you can talk about a lot of different -- how to defend pick-and-rolls, how to do a lot of different things, but it really boils down to guys making shots. When guys make shots, it not only helps you offensively but helps you set up your defense, but it gives you the ability to dig in after you've made some shots and maybe get on a roll and get off to a great start. If your defense is at a high energy level, what ends up happening is now because of that, it makes it difficult for them to score and get on a run. Q. Did you guys have another day off completely today? FLIP SAUNDERS: Yeah. We met, we came in here. Some of the guys, we talked to the guys as far as -- we talked to guys on the flight down and everything. Q. I was wondering if you could talk about what happened with the flight, and also is the fatigue factor becoming less relevant now? FLIP SAUNDERS: Yeah, I don't think we ever said that we were fatigued after our series; I said more I thought what hurt us more than fatigue was lack of preparation, only having really one day and an hour and a half to really prepare. To try to change from playing one team for seven games for ten days and how they play, and now you're going against a whole different animal when you're playing against the Heat because they play a totally different style than the team you're used to playing against. I think because of having a game, two games underneath -- seeing the team, seeing a lot of film on them, our guys playing against them twice, we're more comfortable getting back to now knowing how they're going to play. Even though you played against them during the course of the season, it's always nice to get refreshed a little bit. I think the time off gives us -- as far as mental, to be more mentally alert, as far as that situation, at this point -- because you're playing every other day, you're not going to be in a situation where players are going to get out of shape, and it becomes more of a mental game than a physical game. We're trying to keep our guys mentally sharp and keep them physically as healthy as we can. Q. What is your sense of how they are mentally and physically? FLIP SAUNDERS: I think they're good. I think that we have -- I thought going in before last night we were in a good frame of mind. I thought that we understood what we needed to do to have success against them, and we went in with confidence. I think that's why we played well as far as to start the game. I think that the game before, I think Miami felt the same way in Game 1 we felt going into Game 2. So now we're going to be in a situation where both teams understand each other, both teams know a little bit as far as at this point what they're trying to do to offset the other person's strengths, so Game 3 will be a good game to see who's going to be able to exert their will on each other. Q. Did you get to talk to your team at all about stealing back home court advantage? FLIP SAUNDERS: No, this team has been through so much as far as over the last few years, you don't have to talk to them much because they know where it's at. We approach the game just like we have every one of our games. We've been a great road team all year, had one of the best road records, have gone in with the idea of going out and playing our game and trying to know what's at hand that night to try to win that game. We have won here in Miami, so it's not like we're going into a situation where we haven't had success here. I think we're going to go in in a good frame of mind and know that whoever is going to be the most aggressive team is going to have success. That's how it was the first two games; Miami was more aggressive than we were, they were better than us in Game 1; we were more aggressive in Game 2, and we came out on the upper hand Game 2. Q. Going back to the shot making we talked about, what did you see work in terms of getting good looks and good shots off? FLIP SAUNDERS: We went to more -- what I call more of an equal opportunity offense. We didn't zero in where one guy had to carry us the whole time. We took what they gave us. We got everyone involved, Ben got involved a lot early, and it was more of an equal opportunity offense, so it became more difficult to them to really lock in in one situation. Q. It also seemed that things were maybe more desperate, came out with aggression. I was just wondering, how did you gauge the desperation in Game 3? FLIP SAUNDERS: I think both teams are desperate to win because just you've got a chance to gain the momentum, whoever wins Game 3. By gaining the momentum, you're hoping that at some point you can get the team -- that you have the ability to carry that momentum into the next game. As we won Game 2, we're hoping we can carry momentum from winning Game 2 into winning Game 3. I don't think that either one of these teams -- both teams respect each other so much, I don't think you're going to have it where you're going to have a letdown. I think they went through seven games last year. This whole season they were maybe 1 and 2 all year long in the Eastern Conference. People have been pointing at this series. Miami of course lost last year to Detroit, so they're going to point at us. I don't think you're going to have what you would call a letdown from either team at this point. What we have now is we have a five-game series it really comes down to at this point with Miami having home court. Q. Can you talk about the job that Rip does on Dwyane? What does he do to try to pressure him? FLIP SAUNDERS: To guard Dwyane, it's not Rip, it's everybody. We put a lot of different people on him. Rip has been on him, Tay has been on him, Delfino has been on him, Lindsey Hunter has been on him, Chauncey Billups has been on him, Ben Wallace has been on him. Dwyane is a phenomenal athlete. I think he's the most dynamic player in the game right now when you look at someone who can just do things so explosively as he can. So one person cannot stop him. We just try to give him different looks. Rip has the ability because he is 6'7", he can put a little bit of length on him, he's got pretty decent quickness, but it's still tough to stop him in one-on-one situations. You have to have help on the right and help on the left, and if you don't, he's going to be at the rim before you can snap your fingers. Q. It seems like Rip and even Ben with Shaq, you guys got under their skin last night a little bit is one of the things they said. Obviously that's not your intended goal, but -- FLIP SAUNDERS: We just go out there with the idea of just playing how we play. I think that both teams -- as the playoff series progresses, as things become harder, both teams become more intense, things become a little bit chippy. When we're playing good defense, we're stepping in and taking charge. When they're playing good defense, they're stepping in. Last night we had seven charges called in the game, so you had both teams saying -- the defense is saying to the offense that we're not just going to let you go where you want to go. So when that happens and you have a lot of confidence, there's going to be a little bit of chippiness, but that's what it's all about. Q. How much was it your focus in Game 2 to stop the guys besides Shaq and Dwyane? FLIP SAUNDERS: It was kind of our main thing. We didn't want them to get off to a great start and get easy buckets because that definitely gets -- role players have a tendency -- you definitely look at Gary Payton as being a role player when you've got a guy that's going to be in the Hall of Fame. They're using a lot of those guys because they're running a lot of things through Shaq and through Dwyane. So when you run your offense through two guys predominantly and the other players aren't involved as much, what you want to try to do is you don't want them to have high, efficient scoring opportunities when they do get the ball. What we tried to do is we tried to make sure that we did not lay off those guys so much, and we basically respected them, and basically we wanted to make sure that when they got it that we didn't want to be in a situation just to have to give them open shots and give them the freedom to do what they want to do because they're all good enough players, both Payton and Walker, that if you give them too much freedom that they'll beat you. In the two games we've gotten beat, we lost during the regular season here, and we lost Game 1, Payton had big games against us. We've got to make sure that we contain those people. Q. It's been said on local radio that over the past two series that Chauncey has been playing with an injured ankle. What have you seen from Chauncey? Is he at 100 percent? FLIP SAUNDERS: Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story. Tim is a good old CBA guy, so he's used to making up stories. There's nothing physically wrong with Chauncey. Q. The reason he brought it up, he thought he was struggling on the pick-and-roll and that -- (Inaudible). FLIP SAUNDERS: It's not what you think. In reality he's not hurt. He just didn't go to the pick-and-roll. Q. But on offense -- FLIP SAUNDERS: You always tell people when you're playing a game people are trying to stop you; it's not like dummy offense where you can just go out and do what you want to do. There's another team. They're doing things to prevent Chauncey from having success, and Chauncey's job is if they're going to stop that, they're going to give us something else. That's one of the reasons in the Cleveland series that Tayshaun had a huge series; that's one of the reasons you saw Rip go for 20 in the first half last night and Tayshaun get 24 because if they're going to stop Chauncey and put in effort to do that, then the other players have to make them pay. It has nothing to do with Chauncey, how he is physically. I think for anyone to say that, they just don't know what they're talking about. Q. You talked about the lack of preparation heading into this series coming off a seven-game series. Was there ever any point where the confidence of this team took any kind of hit? FLIP SAUNDERS: No. Q. Can you just talk about that, getting over those three losses? FLIP SAUNDERS: Like I said, it's a very unique team if you're around them. Anyone that's covered them and knows them, it's been very well documented that this team in Detroit has confidence in their abilities no matter what the situation is. They take it for what it's worth, and when the game is played and the game is done, they forget about that game and they worry about the next one. No matter if they've lost two games, they're ready to fire back the third game. If they've lost one, they're ready to fire back to win the second game. Like I said, they have a lot of confidence, they've been together, they've been through a lot of battles together, and when you've been in the heat of a game in the heat of a series and you know how your teammates are going to respond, you have confidence, and I think they've responded in a very positive way, which this team has done over the last couple of years, and it puts you at a comfort level as far as playing with those guys. Q. After Game 2, you dominated and didn't finish it off. Last night was almost a carbon copy where you didn't quite finish, and you didn't get it back for a while. Is there any fear of that happening again, or do you need to address that? FLIP SAUNDERS: No. The Cleveland game was totally different. That was a quarter situation where we almost went a whole quarter. This was a minute-and-10-second situation, and basically what we did last night was what Miami did against us in the game prior. They were up big and they were waiting for the game to end and get it over with as we were waiting for the game to end last night and get it over with. Our guys today, no one even talked about that. We just brought up the idea that we've got to finish games. I thought there were some situations down the stretch as far as some fouls and even delay of games that could have been called as far as when we were trying to get the ball that could have changed that whole thing, so I don't think that will have a bearing. How they played at that frantic pace, you can't play like that for 48 minutes with that pressure. Our strength is our ability not to turn the ball over. We turned it over at those points, but usually that's not something we're going to do. Q. You talked a little bit about Tayshaun. How important is he to the offense and defense of this series? FLIP SAUNDERS: Well, he's important because Tayshaun has become a match-up, a nightmare for teams. He's long, he's got the ability to shoot the ball at perimeter, got the ability to get the ball in the paint, make plays for other people, very good offensive rebounder. He's been second team all-defense this year in the league. He's a multidimensional player that when you go out and start talking with guys, you've got to stop Chauncey Billups on pick-and-rolls, you've got to make sure you get off and get Rasheed Wallace off the pick-and-roll, keep Ben Wallace off the good boards, Rip Hamilton is their leading scorer. So he's kind of the afterthought, but even though he's kind of the afterthought, now all of a sudden he becomes a guy that they say we've got to really find a way to contain him.