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May 25, 2006

Flip Saunders


Q. You know, the one-day turnaround, we talked about this a lot yesterday, but is it mental? Is this whole thing like a good first quarter can kind of change -- like make the legs feel a little better; is it that mental?
FLIP SAUNDERS: There's no question that it's as much -- every time you progress in the playoffs, it almost becomes more mental, and every -- a series is like a game. Sometimes you have your first quarter, how you start sometimes has a direct bearing on how you're going to finish, and unless you somehow change momentum of that. I thought yesterday was a good day for us. I thought just watching the film, seeing things more on film and putting ourselves in a situation where they could just stay off their feet a little bit and focus on what we have to do as far as today to have success I think was good.
I think today we're coming in with, I think, a clearer understanding as far as where we're at and what we need to do. Now we've just got to go out and hit tonight.
Q. At this point, how much is it about making adjustments, and how much of it is just about going out and playing the way you guys are supposed to play?
FLIP SAUNDERS: Well, I mean, I think, first of all, we're constantly making adjustments. If we wouldn't have made an adjustment, they would have scored 128 points last game after 32 points the first quarter. You're going to -- as far as making adjustments, the one thing you have to understand is that each team has strengths, and you're going to play to those strengths. You can go with some type of gimmick things and it might work in the short-term, but over the long-term or a series it's not going to be as effective, so what happens is you go into what your strength is. When we played Cleveland our strength was our defense, and that's what we reverted to to have success. We need to also revert back to how we played offensively.
I think there's no question, I've said it to you guys a number of times, your greatest strength is your greatest weakness if you can't control it. Guys feel maybe they have the ability to take over games, and when you're struggling what happens is they try to do it on their own, and by them trying to do it on their own, the other four guys don't get the touches they might normally get, and when that guy gets the ball they think they have to do it because the ball might not come back, so it becomes very much a vicious cycle. We've got to get back to where we trust each other as far as what we're doing offensively.
I thought actually last game we had a lot of open shots. I thought that we missed some open shots, I thought we had some good luck, and when you're not playing well, it just doesn't happen. In order to start playing well, it just doesn't happen. The Cleveland game we did some positive things, even the Miami game. Our turnovers have been down the last couple games so we're not beating ourselves for that situation. I thought to have an opportunity in the fourth quarter we did some things better, so we've just got to continue to get better.
Q. With all the stuff leading up to this game, Jermaine O'Neal is saying on TV stations, "the Heat against the worn-out Pistons," TV is saying you're done. What would you say the mood of this team is? Is it angry, defiant, same as always? How would you read that?
FLIP SAUNDERS: I think we're pretty much the same as always. I think this team has been in this situation a lot of times. I think what they can say -- the one thing is that right now they are one of four teams still playing, so that's a positive. You know, Jermaine (O'Neal) is sitting at home commenting not playing. I guess from our standpoint, things can change quick.
Miami had a very, very rough series with Chicago. They got blown out by New Jersey, everyone was counting them off saying that there was disarray in their locker room, that they were done, and then they went and won four straight and beat us, now they've won five straight. We were playing well, we played two great games against Cleveland to start out, we struggled in the fourth quarter, things turned the other way, and then we were able to win two as far as to win it. So things can change. That's the way this game is. Things can change quick.
The way the series is set up now with not a lot of rest time in between is you can't play yourself into the series because if you try to play yourself into a series, all of a sudden you're going to be behind and you might not be able to catch back up, and that's the situation we're in tonight.
Q. The Pistons players always say that they play better when their backs are against the wall or they can always rise to the occasion. I'm wondering from a coach's perspective is there a difference between when your team kind of puts themselves up against that wall because they didn't play well, or is it different when the other team is kind of forcing your hand because they're playing better?
FLIP SAUNDERS: Well, I think it's a combination. I don't think that we just played bad and Miami played adequate. Miami played good and made us play not as efficient as we wanted to play.
Like I said, I'm not one to be in this situation. I don't like having our backs against the wall. I don't think we want to get caught in that situation because what happens is eventually it catches you.
But hey, where we're at, we've got no one to blame except ourselves, so we've just got to move forward. Whether that's a motivating factor for these players or not, you guys might know more than me. You've been around with these guys longer than I have, and I know they've responded to these type of situations.
Q. When you look at this situation, you come in -- and they've been through this as you said, but you haven't. Is that kind of weird for you when they're saying, "we've been through this, we've gone through it"?
FLIP SAUNDERS: We've gone through it in our last series and we've had some -- I've been in situations before where you have must-win type games in order to -- no matter where it's at. So no, it's not any different. What it is is for that game there is definitely a sense of urgency, for that game, for both the coach and the players. And your margin of error you feel is not as much.
The thing that you're always concerned about as a coach for your players in that your back-against-the-wall type games is that you still have your ability and your looseness to go out and play loose and not all of a sudden tighten up when things don't go right right away. That's the one thing that you're looking at from the players' perspective of making sure that they can continue to stay aggressive at the offensive end and stay aggressive as far as defensively and try and dictate how the game is going to be played.

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