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June 7, 2006

Pat Riley

DALLAS, TEXAS: Practice Day

Q. Pat, how much better -- or has the team actually advanced from the beginning of the playoffs, is it a misperception on our part that the team is that much better or, in fact, are you both ends of the court a lot better than when you started these playoffs?
COACH PAT RILEY: There's no doubt that at the end of the season, you know, we were in a different mind set. We were in a rest mind set. We were in a sort of fearful mind set of not getting anybody hurt. I think it affected our sharpness. It affected our game. And when the playoffs did start, we were not -- we were not real sharp.
And Chicago was at a razor edge because they had to win 12 out of 14 games to make it in the playoffs. We were very fortunate against them to be able to collect ourselves after the first two or three games. I thought they played with tremendous speed, a lot like Dallas, multiple pick-and-rolls and stuff. By the sixth game, you know, we were much better and we have gotten better in the playoffs because of the opposition. The opposition has been so good that it has allowed us to get better and to become more proficient against certain things that we have to defend.
Q. Coach, you've probably been asked this question a number of times over the last couple of days, but what do you think Udonis can do to slow down Dirk, and who do you also envision guarding Dirk during the course of the game?
COACH PAT RILEY: I'm going to say this a thousand times. We are a 15 strong, that's it.
We are not leaving it up to Udonis. He starts on it.
And that's the way it is. I mean, he's one that made the point in the middle of the year that we can no longer leave one of our teammates, you know, alone on a great, great, great, great player and expect him to contain him. We need help, we need a scheme. So while he will start on him and he will work his tail off, Dirk is one of those guys that it's going to take 15 guys, 15 strong coming in hard and helping.
Q. In what ways the does the experience you've accumulated over the years affect the way that you've coached now?
Q. In what ways did the experience you've accumulated over the years affect the way you coach now?
COACH PAT RILEY: I hope I have a little more wisdom. I think with age, you do, you do get smarter. (Bob) Ryan doesn't. He hasn't. It hasn't impacted him in any way, shape or form. (Laughter) he doesn't use my hair coloring, either. He should. Laugh (laughing).
Q. How will your experience help you -- how will you apply your experience in these Finals?
COACH PAT RILEY: You know, I just think it just helps you. Over time, you know what to do, what not to do, what not to fret about, what counts and what doesn't count; eliminate all the things that you worry about and write down on a notepad and really get to the basics and specifics of what you have to do to win. And get those in concrete and cement.
With us, we're talking about, you know, obviously a great team in Dallas with a lot of speed, a lot of enthusiasm. It's what I call a faith-based team, it really is. Not from -- but they are; they believe. They believe like we do, they believe in something, you know, a lot stronger. That's why teams come together. They believe in each other and believe in something.
So I think over the years, you get to the heart of the matter when you get this far, is that you can't reinvent the wheel and create a new offense or a new dynamic something to try to beat somebody. You have to go with what it is that you have and what got you here and hope that you do it at a real high level and take care of all the intangibles, which are the effort areas.
Q. What do you recall about standing out there in the hall after you had lost by 36 and what you thought you had lying in front of you with the team at that time?
COACH PAT RILEY: Well, it was one of those bad nights. I can't remember exactly what I said, but, I just remember it was a very embarrassing loss. It was at a time of the season, the month of January, we had gone down to play the Hornets and got blown out by them, we got blown out by the Phoenix Suns. I think we had three or four losses that month by 20 or 30, and this was the worst. So I just remember one of those nights that was, you know, an NBA game where we simply were not competitive.
Q. Any lingering concerns about how Dwyane has been feeling the last couple of days as far as him being 100% for Game 1?
COACH PAT RILEY: It always bothers you. But he seemed pretty good spirits today and we're trying to -- we're trying to get him well, really well. And if we went out and practiced him two ours or whatever it was, that wouldn't help him.
So we think he's gaining his strength back, and today he'll get a good sweat. Tomorrow he'll get another good sweat. And hope that he's as close to 100% as he can be tomorrow night.
Q. Can you talk about Howard and some of the Mavericks for saying, we have to let Dwyane take the outside shot because we're more concerned about him driving and some even said it's a weakness? Can you talk about the growth of Dwyane's outside shot where and he stands now as a perimeter threat?
COACH PAT RILEY: I think he's fully developed as a player. Mentally, he's going to get better. His skills will get more honed. But he can make the perimeter shot. He's a driver, he's an attacker, he's a guy that wants to go to the rim.
I'm sure like most teams, they will always say, what are we going to live with. I think most teams are always saying, we'll live with that, we'll live with Dwyane, but he's also beaten some teams with it, too. So he'll take the challenge.
Q. Much has been said and written about Shaq and Dwyane's relationship and how they get along balancing all their talents and what have you. How difficult is it to fashion that sort of relationship with talents of that sort, and who is the most responsible forgetting that done?
COACH PAT RILEY: A lot has been written about that, and it happened the very first time that, you know, we were together and we made the trade -- actually before the trade I think. He called Dwyane and they had a conversation about what went on in Los Angeles and I think they connected immediately.
I don't know exactly what was said, but I think Shaq has expressed it on a number of occasions about how he was going to relate to him and how he wanted to relate to him. He assured him that nothing would ever happen in Miami that happened in L.A., with he and Kobe.
I think Dwyane just as a respectful young man had great respect for Shaquille and his stature and who he was. I know he was tickled to death to have a big guy. He was like beaming. He hated to see his friends go, but he was like, wow, wow. I knew he knew that probably his game was going to be a little bit easier, also.
The relationship they have forged has been a very good one.
Q. For people on the outside who have seen you when you were younger, the Show Time Lakers to the bruising Knicks to now this new incarnation, do you see yourself as having evolved or changed in each of those stops, or all along, have you been the same person yourself?
COACH PAT RILEY: Well, I don't know if I've been the same person. I was a lot different in Los Angeles and I think most of you portrayed me accurately in those years as a very sort of selfish, ambitious young man in a lot of ways to get whatever -- you know, I was very ambitious. I wanted to succeed, and whatever got in the way, I would try to eradicate it.
As I got older, went to New York, it was a different experience and trying to have to build a team there. And going to Miami was an entirely different experience. So I think over the years, I've learned about all of the things that I was, when I was a young, aggressive coach to I think what I am now which is a lot different.
But it's just years, it's years. I'm back in The Finals with the team and I've been trying to get back there since '94. But it's hard to get there, and that's what it's about, nothing more, nothing less.

End of FastScripts...

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