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May 29, 2006

Flip Saunders


Q. Coach, you had a chance to see Shaq three times already in the series. Is it a matter of executing better in terms of defending him? Are there things you can do from a tackle standpoint to maybe limit their effectiveness?
FLIP SAUNDERS: I think there's both. I think one, going into the series -- Shaq has been extremely energetic, probably more so than I've seen him in the last couple years, the most energetic he's been offensively, defensively, so you're going to have to try to get the ball out of his hands sometimes and get him out of his comfort zone.
Dwyane has had a phenomenal year. The thing he's doing right now that he started to do is shooting the ball well at the perimeter. When he's shooting that well he starts to put pressure on things that you can do against him. For both those guys, we've got to get them out of their comfort zone, so there will have to be things we have to do tactically and to do those type of things and not just let them continue to go.
Now, Dwyane, of his points he had, he had about I'd say seven of his baskets were just flat-out plays where he just basically broke in plays and made something out of nothing, and it was just very, very good plays. But you've got to try to get him out of those situations.
Q. Flip, it seems like the team was kind of irritable yesterday. Ben criticized not doing enough defensive drills during the season and Rasheed wasn't happy about the Hack-a-Shaq strategy, Tay was wondering why Lindsey wasn't playing the second half. How do you talk to the players about these things?
FLIP SAUNDERS: We're usually at our best when we're like that, so I would anticipate that we'd be pretty good. We're better when we're irritable, and we're feeling fat cats about ourselves. We just talked that everyone -- as a coach I make decisions. I have to live by the decisions. As players, they play, and they have to implement as far as what we do. I don't agree with what Ben says on practice from a defensive standpoint talking to people who have been here and what we've done. We all know how Ben gets at times.
Q. Do you ever take it as an affront when a player suggests that a particular player should be playing more in the second half as Tayshaun did with Lindsey?
FLIP SAUNDERS: They can suggest it. That doesn't mean I'll do it. I mean, point blank, the Lindsey situation, the reason we couldn't put Lindsey on the floor was -- part of it was because Tay wasn't scoring. Our scoring was coming out of Chauncey and Rip, and to keep scoring on the floor we had to keep our guards on the floor. That was one of the things that went into it, so it's pretty ironic, like I said.
But the bottom line is the players want to win, and I think it's like everybody, when you lose you search for answers, and there's nothing wrong as far as with that, knowing that when you're entering the next game that we're all entering on the same page.
Q. Do you feel compelled at all to meet with the teams since so many players seemed to say some things yesterday, any kind of a team meeting, or was it not necessary?
FLIP SAUNDERS: I meet with the team every day and we talk about things. I'm not one to shy away from talking about those things, and I talk -- we addressed the team and talked to them, so they know where I stand on those situations.
Q. Do you talk a little bit about balancing the importance of this game without putting too much emphasis on it? It's an important game, but it's not a Game 7 necessarily. Could you just talk about the balance between that?
FLIP SAUNDERS: Well, I think the approach -- I think both teams feel -- I know Miami feels if they win that they've taken a giant step towards winning the series. I think we feel if we win that we've taken a step towards that, so there's no question that that's why both teams look at this as a pivotal game. I think what you have to look at and our approach has been that we have to go out and play well. We cannot afford to play a mediocre game. If we play well, we're going to give ourselves a chance, and I think that's the bottom line as far as what we need to do, and I think that's how we've pretty much approached it, not from a standpoint that the pressure situation of having to win the game, but having to play well because that gives you the opportunity to win.

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