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June 15, 2006

Avery Johnson


Q. How crucial is it for you guys to win back boards tonight?
AVERY JOHNSON: Yeah, that is critical. We take pride in being a really good rebounding team. We've been a really good rebounding team throughout the whole season, and it's been disappointing that we haven't been able to win the rebound game. But part of that is probably because we've been getting broken down defensively with our penetration, and our pick-and-roll coverages.

Q. If you don't win the boards, you end up playing at their pace, don't you?
AVERY JOHNSON: Yeah, that's part of the problem. If you don't get the rebound, you can't run, that's pretty simple mathematics for us. Nothing real tricky. The reason we've been a pretty good fast break team this year, maybe not as much in the past, we still like the run, but you can't run unless you can get the ball.

Q. How much more would your out-of-bounds playbook have opened up had you had two seconds instead of one second to work with at the end of that game?
AVERY JOHNSON: Yeah, definitely, we have stuff for both of those scenarios, and it opens up a little bit more because you can at least hesitate for a moment. But with one second or .07, or whatever it is, you don't have many options. So we have things that we like to do in all of those scenarios. Hopefully we can execute a little bit better, because even though it's just one second, you still have a chance. The game is not over.

Q. Dirk had been catching, instead of throwing?
AVERY JOHNSON: On that particular play, we like when we're going for a lob, because he's our best shooter, to try to shoot the ball at the basket. You don't want a guy that's not a great three-point shooter to throw a lob in that situation. So we like it with him catching some, and we like it with him passing some.

Q. You guys have been able to neutralize Shaquille O'Neal somewhat in the first three games. How do you continue to do that?
AVERY JOHNSON: Well, we don't think we did as good a job early in the game the last game as we've done in the first two games.
So we've got to try to make a concerted effort to do an even better job, because we thought he gave them a big boost early in the game. Hopefully we can do a better job.
The problem, also, is we are not making them work defensively as much as a coach would like.

Q. When they were making their run at the end of the game, was there any point where you thought about or discussed fouling Shaquille or is that something you just don't see as a strategy you want to use?
AVERY JOHNSON: Well, yeah, we like that strategy. But there was a stretch there where we weren't in the bonus, you know, in that situation he has to get the ball for us to foul him.
Obviously it's a tool that in the right scenario, we like to use it, right situation. We're not against it. But then there was a stretch there before we're struggling to score so much, we ended up going small and they ended up taking him out of the game so, we didn't have that in our availability.

Q. You just said you want to make Shaq work on the defensive end. Is that not necessarily Damp and Diop, or is that making him attack the basket?
AVERY JOHNSON: We have four or five ways we try to keep him involved. Obviously if you can't penetrate, pick-and-rolls or whatever, but our fives, when they get the ball, they have got to finish strong for us. Because there are times when they are out there, that they are not guarding them.

Q. You talked yesterday about you don't worry about your team, or you're constantly taking state of the mental part of your team. Having spent some time with them today, are you pretty confident that yesterday is gone and here you are?
AVERY JOHNSON: Well, in some ways, we want yesterday to be gone, and that's why I've taken certain approaches with this team. But in other ways, we are pretty good when we remember yesterday. And I think I said it after the last game, when we were getting built up as this flawless team that was just supposed to run away in this series like we were playing against ourselves, now we understand that this is going to be a great Finals, and you've got two teams that are very closely matched. And you've got to really play well to beat the Heat.
We are not a flawless team, and we've been getting off to some miserable starts, and we're still fortunate enough to have won two games.

End of FastScripts...

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