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May 31, 2006

Pat Riley


Q. Coach, do you go with the approach that it's just like a Game 7, winner take all, being in this position?
PAT RILEY: Well, I think that's one way to look at it, you know, but you cannot want to desperately get to the next level until you take care of tonight, so you can never get ahead of yourself. You've got to live right in the present moment. You want to use 7th game mentality, whatever it is, to me that's what it is. We have an opportunity to move on, and that should be enough incentive.
Q. I think you guys are something like 29 and 8 when the top 8 are healthy. How big a factor has health been in your run here in the playoffs?
PAT RILEY: Health? Big. Obviously having everybody at 100 percent -- well, everybody is not because we have guys on our team that are banged up, but they're not debilitated, so it's huge at this time, having your talent healthy and being able to perform is huge.
Q. You said the other day that there's only been like one bump in the road pretty much this year, and that was what happened in Chicago with Gary and Dwyane. But since that time, you guys have only lost two games. Do you look at that either as a turning point, or did you speak to those guys?
PAT RILEY: We spoke about it, but I didn't -- before that bump we had a lot of potholes, also, the kind that break your rims. As long as the rims don't come off, you're always okay.
I think any team in the NBA, they do, they have crises. You go through these things throughout the course of six months, and a lot of it is borne out of a number of things. That to me was very minor, just the fact that it was public sort of made it look pretty bad. But we were not like that as a team. That was just a momentary lapse, I think. But I think it might have had something to do with that. I don't know, we talked about it the next day for a while, and it straightened us up a little bit.
Q. How?
PAT RILEY: It just got us back on track, that that cannot be tolerated.
Q. How would you compare this playoff run so far with the Heat's other playoff runs that have gotten them to the Eastern Conference Finals?
PAT RILEY: I think we've only been there one other time other than as a coach. I think it was one other time.
Q. Chicago.
PAT RILEY: Chicago, yeah. It's after the New York debacle, came back from down 3-1.
Q. This is your third time.
PAT RILEY: Thank Charlie Ward for that. I don't have a comparison with it from that standpoint. I don't think we legitimately had a chance, even though you always talk about chances, Michael Jordan was playing at that time in the Eastern Conference, and I do think last year we had a team that could contend, and I do think this year we had a team from the beginning that could contend, also. So there's a little bit of difference there.
Q. How does it feel?
PAT RILEY: I don't think how it feels, you just keep going one step -- taking one step at a time. I like the fact that you have an arsenal where you can compete with and you're not moving around that. The fact that the team has grown in spirit from the standpoint of where we were in the middle of the season towards the end of the season, even questioning the playoffs that they have gotten better, and they have really gotten more unified.
We're playing our best basketball, and I think we're thinking our best team at this time.
Q. You have a few guys on your roster, Gary, Alonzo, who haven't won a championship, and even Shaq who's got some time left but closing in on the end of his career. How much do you think that hunger factor plays into this time of year and how well you guys are playing?
PAT RILEY: I think it plays a factor, and those guys being more serious about it and being great leaders about it, it doesn't guarantee anything because Detroit is a formidable world champion, been to the finals two years in a row, they've been the team in the Eastern Conference and have basically held the stronghold over this conference the last three years, and regardless of what that motivation is, you've got to take care of business by playing a very disciplined game, very hard-fought game, and that's what we're expecting.
Q. Your other teams you had like super-intense leader kinds of guys like Magic, Patrick, Alonzo. Is this team different in that sense?
PAT RILEY: Yeah, there's an intense leadership here. It isn't as out there like their personalities. Zo's personality was out there, Patrick's was out there a little bit more, Magic wore his emotions on his sleeve. But there's an intense leadership on this team. I mean, there's a certain breaking point in terms of how far things can go with it. I think Shaquille and Dwyane Wade to some extent and all the veterans we have are that. Our unified is 15 strong.
Q. Before it was embodied in one guy, so now is it distributed a little bit?
PAT RILEY: I think when he wants to wave the big stick, it's still Shaquille. He will every now and then wave it around, and I listen (laughter).
Q. They seemed to hit an offensive wall as early as Game 3 in Cleveland. How much of that is them and how much of that is your good defense and what Cleveland did, as well?
PAT RILEY: The playoffs -- defensive concepts and adjustments and intensity ratchet up -- that's what it is. I haven't really studied their numbers as to why they're down, but I just keep looking at what we're trying to do and how successful we are at trying to take away some things that they really like. Whether or not we have been successful in doing that, the result is what it is. We're ahead three to one and we want to try to continue to do those things.

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