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June 8, 2006

Avery Johnson


Q. I know you guys have tried to keep the same routine, but what was last night like for you, and this morning? This is obviously a different sort of situation for you guys.
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Last night for me personally?
Q. Yeah.
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Pretty much the same thing. You know, wife cooks some New Orleans food, playing cards with my kids --
Q. Nothing special?
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Nothing really special. That's pretty much it. Just good family time. You know, obviously our coaches and players have been working extremely hard, but there's only so much you can do. We've been spending a lot of time here, so some time, it's time to go home. Just try to keep things as normal as we can.
Pretty much normal family time for me.
Q. Could you take a little bit about your starting lineup for tonight and what your thoughts about that were?
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: What is my starting lineup?
Q. I don't know. That's what I was asking.
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Yeah, we just have a certain way that we want to play. Obviously, you know, Wade is a tough matchup for us, along with Shaq. You mow know, there are certain guys on our team that we want to try to slow down Wade as best we can, so I think you'll see, you know, five, six guys on him. You know, obviously Josh Howard and Griffin and Stackhouse, Marquis Daniels and Devin is a different type of defender. Obviously he's not as strong as those guys, but we like him when teams are trying to run a lot of pick-and-rolls.
So you'll see a lot of different guys out there tonight.
Q. Do you have a point of emphasis for tonight, something you really want them -- the one thing you want them focusing on?
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Well, I think just kind of playing our game. There are certain things that we're trying to do defensively and offensively. When we get away from those things, we're not as good. We don't have as good a chance to win.
Just tough, hard-nosed defense, try to win the rebound game, which we think is critical. And there is a certain way that we want to play offense, obviously from series to series, that adjust, but there's a certain way that we want to play in this series, and we have an idea of what we think may work. But we've got to go out there and do it.
Q. I was wondering from this being your first Finals, obviously you've been here as a player and been in many big playoff games, but I was wondering if there is a raise in the excitement level for you, it's kind of like, wow, this is The Finals?
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Yeah, there is a raise in the excitement level. I'd be crazy to tell that you it's not. There's a lot at stake, but there's only two of us left, and everybody is watching these two teams. I don't have my -- I was joking with my scouts, I don't have anywhere really to send them to go scout anybody anymore.
Yeah, there is a raise in the excitement. It's good. I think it's great for everybody, it's great for the city, both cities and everybody that's going to benefit from these two teams playing.
Yeah, in some ways, but I'm more happy for other people. I'm happy for these players and their families, and I'm happy for the sky cap at the airport that maybe you gave a tip to today.
Q. The willingness to change your lineup during the playoffs depending on match-ups, does it surprise that you more coaches don't do that, and is a player's ego ever a concern in taking someone out of the starting lineup?
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Well, I can't really comment. We have 29 other fabulous coaches in our league, and I'm just glad to be a part of that fraternity. I just think different things work for different coaches.
I just think with our team, there are certain things that work for us that may not work for other teams. So we've had to just kind of adjust pretty much because of the nature of what's been going on, really in the Western Conference. Devin Harris was a better fit for us in San Antonio than Griff. And we had to start Griff in the beginning of the third quarter in Game 6 against Phoenix because that was a better fit. We've had to move Devin from the starting lineup to the bench. All 12 guys that suit up, their roles are significant whether they are starting or coming off the bench.
Q. Are players' feelings ever an issue in your mind or is that no factor?
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: That's no factor.
Q. Have you given thought to what you'll say to them before you go out, or will it kind of come off the top of your head or will it be any different from the previous series?
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Well, normally I always have something to say. Sometimes it's planned, sometimes it's right before the game. But more than anything, more than some big motivational speech, I'll point to some facts about our team and certain things that we do well defensively and offensively. I just like maybe pointing to the facts more than anything.
Q. Do you have any sense that any of your players will be big-eyed in this type of environment and did you say anything from your first appearance in The Finals?
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Yeah, anticipating that, it's a normal human reaction. That's part of it. If they weren't, I'd be disappointed.
So, again, think once the introductions and the National Anthem and all the stuff that go on with the Finals and the ball goes up, I'm just going to be excited when the game starts, so we can kind of get down to basketball.
Even after tonight, you know, you guys will have your opinions on who has a significant advantage. But I'm just excited about getting into the series.
Q. Will you share anything from your experience in '99?
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Yes, I have. I think I did a lot during the year just laying the groundwork there. Yeah, I've shared one or two things.
Q. What kind of advice have you heard from your peers and coaches to help you win this series?
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Well, Pop's not talking to me. (Laughter) that's a joke.
Obviously I have a pretty good relationship with several coaches in the league. You pretty much know who they are, you know, Bernie Bickerstaff and Doc Rivers and Pop, obviously. So gotten a few calls. Again, you know, they want to wish you well, and they are not trying to necessarily tell you strategically what to do, but they want to wish you well. And those guys mean a lot to me, and I can go on and on and on down the line because some of the guys, like Doc and Nate (McMillan) I've played with and there are other guys that are coaching like Bernie and Pop that I've played for.
Q. As a player, when you were a player, even though you're in the Western Conference mostly, watched Pat Riley as a coach, do you expect anything from Pat particularly, have you paid attention to his style?
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Yeah, I've paid attention to his style for years. And even now when they are off nights, the best thing about the NBA now, you can watch games on the dish, you can watch seven or eight games and you can see different coaches and try to figure out what they are thinking at the time and some of the stuff that they are running in special situations and adjustments.
So obviously I've been watching him for a long time, like a lot of coaches. He's been doing it for a long time and he's been pretty good at what he does and he's been pretty consistent and his team's been pretty consistent.
Q. Is there anything in particular that stands out about Pat's coaching that you've noticed over your career?
COACH AVERY JOHNSON: Well, again, I think it's just stuff that I hear, and I hear that there are some pretty good practices that were involved what lot of his teams, and that's kind of what I like because I love practice myself. You know, obviously preparation, just a lot of the stuff that I believe in, I've heard coming from their camp.

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