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May 29, 2007

Flip Saunders


Q. I wanted to bring you back to your youth for a moment.
COACH SAUNDERS: Long time ago.

Q. Long time. The Coliseum, how much time did you spend there when you were growing up? Do you have any great memories of that and who were your favorite Cavalier players back then?
COACH SAUNDERS: First memory was at the old arena, which is right downtown. So I just remember being at the first game that they ever had, Nick Mileti was the owner at the time, and we spent time at Richfield Coliseum, because Bill Musselman who was my college coach ended up coaching the Cavs so I used to go up there in the summertime and play up there a little bit. You always remember the Bingo Smith, the Walt Wesley, Barry Clemens, of course, Austin Carr was a little later but when the team first came here, what you remember is the first group because they gave their heart and soul to play, and as an expansion team, you're not as talented, so you have to take a few lumps. But it was always a joy to go and watch them.

Q. Coach, it's hard for me to put a word on the way LeBron played in Game 3, but it was different than he played in Game 1 and 2, more aggressive, more of a sense of urgency. Can you guys win if he plays like that? If he plays the rest of the series like he did Game 3? Are you capable of beating them, still?

Q. I know you said this morning that you game plan for Larry Hughes being here, no matter what. He is going to try to start, will you attack him to see what he's got, to see how mobile he is?
COACH SAUNDERS: I would anticipate whether it was Daniel Gibson, Eric Snow, whoever is going at Chauncey that Chauncey Billups is going to be aggressive to start with.

Q. You're a veteran team and fifth straight Conference Finals and all that, but every time your team loses a game or loses a couple games, all the comments are to such that, no, we're fine, everything will be fine, no big deal. It seems sometimes like the media is more concerned about the games -- what is your response when you hear these things from your players, "we're fine, no big deal?"
COACH SAUNDERS: I think that the reason they're saying that is because they understand what they have to do. I don't think it's to say there is a short -- where they don't have a sense of urgency. I think because they've been there, they understand the situation and they understand what needs to be done, and because of that I think that they rely on their experience to pull them through, and having been in those situations before.
So I don't think it's a situation where they're saying, you know, we're fine, we're going to keep on playing the same way and it's going to be okay. I think they know there has to be a change in how we play and how efficient we have to play.

Q. The players may say that to us, but in your conversations with Chauncey over the last day, how did he express it? Was he saying, no, it's no problem, or was he more to the point of --
COACH SAUNDERS: I think they all understand, you know, the series, they understand where we are at, how effective Cleveland can play if LeBron is playing the way he's playing, but they understand what they need to do individually and as a team. I think they're very much aware that we can go -- we can't go out and play the way we played the previous game and expect to win Game 4 or Game 5 or any of the games. So I really believe that they do have a sense of urgency of knowing that they have to play better as individuals and as a team.

Q. Because you and Chauncey have known each other for a while, is there anything he said to you specifically yesterday that you could share with us?
COACH SAUNDERS: "I'll be ready," that's it. Usually with Chauncey it's more body language than it is what he talks about, and the way he's carrying himself. I think he's very anxious as far as to -- he's very anxious to play tonight.

Q. Chauncey and Rip both came over on the first bus, that seems rare. I wanted to know if you can remember a time when they came over early like this and what does that say about their mindset?
COACH SAUNDERS: What I just said, they're anxious, they haven't done that before. What Sam was saying, to reiterate, they understand the situation and what they need to do and I think they're doing whatever they have to do to prepare to give themselves the best chance for them to play well individually and to play well as a team.

Q. With the zone you had great success down the stretch after you fell behind by eight, and I know you've played spotty with it, much more so than in the Chicago series, has that changed with the success?
COACH SAUNDERS: Sometimes it's tough to zone because of LeBron and his size; he can see so much over the zone at times, but, you know, you use it when you think you need to do it to change the tempo a little bit, but we're still -- the main part of what we are is a "man" team. We didn't lose Game 3 because of our defense, we lost it because of our offense. And so we've got to get better offensively and to try to take some pressure off our defense.
We're putting too much pressure on our defense on a possession basis. Every possession is becoming too important to make a stop every time.

Q. Do you see differences between last year, 2-1, and now, or similarities?
COACH SAUNDERS: As far as in the?

Q. Going into Game 4, up 2-1 last year.
COACH SAUNDERS: Last year we were -- the big similarity is Sheed is healthy and he's playing very, very well. Rip, of course, and Chauncey have been spotty, but I think the mental aspect of where we're at is totally different. I think -- we're up 2-1, last year we were down off 3 games 2-1 in the Conference Finals, so I think that's a little bit different.

Q. He was asking about Cleveland.
COACH SAUNDERS: Oh, Cleveland? Oh, Game 3 last time we played them we didn't give an effort at all last year, I didn't think, where this year we came out and gave an effort, as far as defensively, and much more concentration, much more sense of urgency.

Q. Coach, we have a team so experienced, what do you have to do as a coach between those two games? Do you have to do anything at all or do you just let them do what they do?
COACH SAUNDERS: No, we'll do some things.

Q. You talk to them?
COACH SAUNDERS: What's that?

Q. You talk to them at all or --

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