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June 14, 2006

Pat Riley

MIAMI, FLORIDA: Practice Day

Q. Coming into the series, how aware were you that Dallas had outrebounded all of it's opponents throughout the first three rounds and how much of a point of emphasis was it for you guys against them?
PAT RILEY: Well, I think it was one of the first things that we talked to them about when we gave them the defensive keys. Obviously transition defense, getting into their space, pick-and-roll, you know, keys, certain keys that we had to really put in our mind. But we did make the point that they maybe the best rebounding team in the playoffs besides us. So it was a huge key and last night we had plus 14 on the boards and actually outrebounded them I think in Games 1 or 2. So we're a very good defensive rebounding team, not a very good offensive rebounding team. But they got a bunch of athletic guys that go to the offensive boards, you know, Josh Howard in particular. These players are, you know, marquis, Adrian Griffin. The other players sort of add to that. So it's a big key for us.

Q. Could you talk about Dwyane Wade's game, the historical context given the circumstances, 2-0, 15 in the fourth quarter?
PAT RILEY: From an historical context, I think probably he's going to surpass this in his career. People will be talking about a lot more games that he will play that will be memorable. I've seen a lot of them myself, you know, from great players that rose to the occasion when they had to.
We're not surprised by it. I don't take it for granted and nor do our players take it for granted. We're not surprised by what he has the ability to do when he has his legs and his mind focused on really competing to win. I think you guys will determine that, but it's only win No. 1 for us, that's what it is and we've got to move on. I'm sure they are going to have a better plan for him at the end of games. Now that they see what he can do, they won't let him play like that the next time he gets close.

Q. When Dwyane left last night he said that he was sore and he was going to see how he felt this morning. Can you describe how he was feeling and how it affected him today?
PAT RILEY: He was in the meeting, for an hour, hour and 15 minutes watching film and everything. So he is a little sore. He's sore. But that's the way it is after a big game. There's a lot of guys out there that just walk around with a limp. Bodies are banging, you're hitting the floor all the time. He did take a real hard hit from Shaquille on his knee and it bothered him. Couldn't get it loose.
But at the end of the game, the mind just sort of transcended any of the pain.

Q. Did he practice?
PAT RILEY: Well, we haven't practiced.

Q. Will that affect anything for tomorrow?
PAT RILEY: Will he what?

Q. Will the injury affect anything for tomorrow?
PAT RILEY: I don't think so. I think tomorrow he'll be ready.

Q. How much of a quandary do you find yourself in on two fronts, one, how much to play Zo when Dallas goes small and the Walker-Posey -- Antoine gives you more offense but Posey against Howard defensively?
PAT RILEY: I don't think the small lineup has really hurt us. You don't want to overreact to Van Horn if Zo is on him or if, you know, Shaq's on him. You can't overreact if he makes a 3, you just can't. That happens a lot. I mean, if he's getting layups or something like that or he's driving, you know, your big to the basket for layups, you'll be a little more concerned but you don't get caught up. As a matter of fact I was ready to put Shaquille back into the game with that lineup out there and Avery got out of it, I think as soon as there was one score made by Zo, he just got right out of it himself.
So as far as James and Antoine, you know, I need Antoine out on the court to make plays and we need him to stretch the defense. Last night we let Howard get away from us a little bit, but again, I don't want to overreact to Josh making two or three jumpers. We do want to overreact to him driving to the basket and come to help.
So Posey's job is not only Howard, Stackhouse and Nowitzki, but I need Antoine out there.

Q. Can you talk about the 20 turnovers and in some cases, just what the heck you guys are thinking with every possession being so meaningful, and also, the 3-second violations, are those plays where the ball should be going to Shaq and sort of it's not his fault and you guys are going past him?
PAT RILEY: We had 11 of the 20 turnovers that we had were unforced. That's not counting two moving picks. That's not counting the three 3-second violations. So 11 of the turnovers were unforced. They were just mindless, careless passes, fumbles, some of the things that we did in transition. Shaq threw it one time down the right side of the court to you, I think; I don't know who he was throwing it to. Dwyane uncharacteristically was trying to get off the ball when normally he's attacking.
So we take a look at every single one of them. But it's a focus thing, more than anything else, is to take advantage of it. But the 3 three-second calls were when another guy should have shot the ball. The ball movement was good, it got to an open shooter, Shaquille was in the lane, he wasn't open and the ball should have gone up. And we tried to drive it again, is what happened. So we took a look at those three -- well, he was open one time, but we definitely have to cut down the unforced turnovers. They only had -- they only had four turnovers that they really forced.

Q. There's a lot of talk about the momentum and the psychological edge and where it lies at this point. In your experience, how much does that really weigh into what happens in the next game, who has the clout?
PAT RILEY: It gives us, obviously, there's a lot of pressure on us last night after going down 2-0. You know, we feel like we let one slip away in Game 1. We had a 13-point lead and then they had that run at the end of the second quarter. We came out flat in the third quarter, but we had it 82-79 on the road in Game 1 and Antoine missed an open 3 that could have tied it and they outscore us 8-1 and we lose.
You guys have been part of NBA Finals for a long time. I haven't been. I haven't been here in 12 years. You go back and tell me one that wasn't dramatic, one where the drama sort of came into it. I think last year Horry hit a 3 against Detroit somewhere. From game-to-game, it swings, and you leave what happened behind and move on and use whatever psychological edge you have or how you feel, but we're moving on to Game 4. Avery is moving on to Game 4. I'm sure he's got, you know, some work to do from a mindset on their part because of what they felt like they gave away last night. And I've got to make sure that our guys aren't feeling so comfortable because we came back from the dead to win; that we still have to play our best game.

Q. Another historic question: Wondering where you see Shaquille in the big picture of big men in the NBA and is what happens in this series, is it taking on a disproportionate importance about what his legacy is going to be?
PAT RILEY: Well, he's concerned -- he's concerned about his legacy. He's a man that wants to be considered right there with the great ` of all time. He's very proud.
Now at 34 years old, the game is changing for him a little bit, a little differently. We had, you know, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from age 34 to 41 when he was a significant contributor but we had the other players every year begin to take on more and more of the responsibility, but he still finished big-time for us. Even in '87 and '88, when he was 37 and 38 years old.
So I think right now is the first time that Shaquille is experiencing this kind of judgment on his game, and it's bothering him. But he's got to put all that aside. Can't worry about it. He just can't. I don't think the public is ever going to think anything else about him when he retires other than he was probably the most dominant center of all time. But right now he's got to deal with how he has to play and what he has to do to get his team over the top and not worry about the criticism.

Q. Do you feel like when you get a game time crunch situation that you have an advantage because you have the best one-on-one player in the series and a disadvantage because you have so many shaky free-throw shooters?
PAT RILEY: Yeah, yeah that -- but that's why for the most part we put the ball in Dwyane's hands. You know, Shaquille totally understands the situation. Antoine sometimes struggles at the line, but he can make big shots. So we have to be very conscious of that.
But we know what we want to do going down the stretch. If they take the ball out of his hands, you've got to do what you have to do. If you go make the pass to Shaquille, it's got to be right under the rim with his hands up and he's got to be able to turn and get an and-one, you can't always wrap him up; then he's going to go to the free throw line. But I think he's pretty accurate last night inside of two minutes when he made the two that we needed. He always feels confident there at that time. He had been attending nights with Dwyane at 10:30 at night at the practice facility working on their game plan. I wish they'd clue me in on what they are doing. (Laughter) But yeah, we are very confident about what we are going to run at the end of the game.

Q. Why do you think Erick Dampier has been so effective the last couple of games against you?
PAT RILEY: He's a fine center. They made a great acquisition in signing him. I mean, the responsibility that we put on Shaquille where Shaquille has to do everything and with the attention -- I think I made a point about this the other day where he is attacked and doubled and tripled and banged and bumped and Dampier charged on doing that on their part. They don't have any responsibilities other than offensive rebounds and dishes and finishes or stuff like that. So when our centers go to help, they put their head right under the rim and they were taking advantage of it last night. I think he really hurt us, one of the things they looked at today on film was our sinks were horrible. We didn't get a body down into his legs and went out of bounds on that.
But he's had a big impact. Both those players have worked very hard inside of what their roles are, and when you're given the responsibility to be simply just be a warrior, rebound the ball, play defense, run the court, get rebounds, you don't have to worry about offense. The offense sometimes just comes to you. So he's had an impact and we have to be more conscious of it.

Q. You coached in an era when people are debating Ervin and Bird back and forth, who was a better player. Do you see some parallels now with Dwyane and LeBron and with Dwyane's playoff success would you rate him ahead at this point because of what he's been able to do?
PAT RILEY: That's one of the things we made a point to him about when we were playing Detroit. Our objective was to win a championship this year and with all of the comparisons of that particular class, I said to him, "Okay, be the first one to win one." That might change the opinion on everybody.
I do know that Larry and Magic were barking at one another in the early 80s. Magic said, I was the first -- no, he was -- yeah, he was the first to get one I think in '79, '80. (Laughter). It wasn't until they did that Converse commercial in French Lick where they got out of the limousines where I thought actually brought the relationship down. I liked it when they didn't like each other. (Laughter).
But I think there's a little bit to that with Dwyane; that he's proud to be one of the first of the new class to get here, but he wants to win the title.
And the other thing; you know, I haven't seen a player in this game since Larry Bird like Dirk Nowitzki. This guy is about as unique as you're ever going to find. He is a tough, tough cover. He's beginning to get more and more comfortable with his game out there, and got away from us a little bit last night. But he's right in there with all of these players.

Q. Forgive me, I walked in a minute or two late, talk a little about the awareness that both Jason and Gary showed on that last possession, I think Jason got the hand off with maybe three or four seconds off on the shot clock and didn't force and Gary got a pass with two seconds on the shot clock and he also took the time just to set up a shot and not force anything. What's that say about their awareness of that situation, that's such a pressure-filled moment?
PAT RILEY: Well, I was very upset with the plays that they made. It was just a simple 1,2, pick-and-roll. You know, he turned the corner and made a layup. That should have been a blatant switch. He should have never gotten to the rim. We didn't communicate on that. We switched a little bit late on that. When Dwyane came down the court, they made him pick the dribble up. I think he was looking to pull up and they closed and they covered and he made the hand-off to Jay and Jay just dropped his shoulder, that's it. If there wasn't help, he kicked it to Gary. Howard closed out, went up in the air on the shot fake and he made the shot.
That's what we need to do at times. We need to just play the game, not just look for somebody all the time. We need to just sort of get off the ball, and in the course of the playoffs against Chicago and Jersey and also Detroit at crucial times in the fourth quarter, I can remember the four games we beat New Jersey, every single game went down to the wire, in the last two or three minutes it was one or two points, and somebody else made a shot. It wasn't always Dwyane, it was somebody else, and last night it was Gary.

Q. You talk about Magic and Larry kind of coming together with that commercial. How do you feel about LeBron text-messaging and he mailing Dwyane; does that bother you?
PAT RILEY: No. If they wanted to become roommates it would bother me -- (laughter). No, I'm just kidding.
They have truly a healthy respect, they really do, for each other and each other's abilities, they really do.
So this is a different era of players. I mean, back in the 60s and 70s, and even in the 80s, you know, players liked one another, but, you know, there was very little fraternizing and all of that stuff. Now it's different. I think Isiah and Magic changed it when they started to kiss at the center jump in '88 or whatever it was and all those things. But they have a genuine respect for each other and their friends. I don't have a problem with that, I really don't.

End of FastScripts...

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