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June 1, 2007

Flip Saunders


Q. (Inaudible).
COACH SAUNDERS: I don't think it was as much a breakdown, I think it was we wanted to get the ball out of LeBron's hands and we didn't do a real good job. You know, we tried at times, he backed it up, we ran away, he would kind of reattack and we just didn't do a very good job as far as executing it. He made some phenomenal shots. I think the most disciplined -- it wasn't the shots he made as far as his jumpers, he made some tough ones, it was the plain layups that we gave up as far as off his high pick-and-roll or isos.

Q. Was there any miscommunication going on, as far as --
COACH SAUNDERS: No, we just didn't -- no, he made a couple -- one time he took off two feet outside the dots, you know, it happens. He's so quick and so powerful. Couple times we switched, we executed, he made some great moves and we had some guys that -- they had shooters in, so some guys were locked into some shooters, and we couldn't get there to help quite as much.

Q. Is there any concern or hesitation of delivering a hard foul on your part? Has there been any talk about that?
COACH SAUNDERS: There's always talk about giving him the layups. I mean, you saw Dyess, so I don't think there's -- I think that both teams are trying to do that. I think sometimes, as I said, the floor, in our man, the floor is spread so much that he gets by you, and LeBron has been so explosive, that it's almost been tough to get to him. I think that's been the biggest thing, and there is no question we have to do a better job of trying to prevent him from having the ability to totally take over the game as he has the last two times in the fourth quarter.

Q. Your players have been in similar situations before and they've talked about how that experience benefits them, is there a downside to that? Maybe experienced too much?

Q. That can be dangerous, right?

Q. With a guy like LeBron, that's different from most of the other situations.
COACH SAUNDERS: Yeah. I think the positive is if you've been there, in that experience you know the tension that's going to be in the game, you know what to expect as far as from the crowd standpoint, just the whole atmosphere. You also know having been in the situation that it's always -- the close-out game is always tough. No matter what it's always tough to close out no matter who you're playing or when. And so having been in that, you know, you're always going to be -- you know that there is really no margin for error.
So it's a catch-22 because you have to go in to play loose, but you have to play pretty much flawless.

Q. Coach, looking at this, this is your third time being in the Conference Final situation, Minnesota and last year with Detroit.

Q. How are you handling a situation like this?
COACH SAUNDERS: Well, what you do is you prepare each game to go out. You prepare to -- it's like I said yesterday, we were one stop and one bucket away from being really happy today; unfortunately we're not. So what you have to understand is that, as everybody knows, this has been a series where it could be over 4-0 for Cleveland, it could be over 4-0 for us, it could be 2-3 for Cleveland, but right now it's 2-3 for us.
So I think one thing you understand is that the series has boiled down to a couple possessions, so that's why from a coaching standpoint you prepare your guys going into the game, knowing that we can't give up possessions, and every possession is going to be very, very important. But I think to say that, you know, last night's game was not a tough loss on everybody, I think I can't say that, because it was. It was definitely a tough loss, so what you do is you bounce back.

Q. Coach, they're looking although it as kind a coronation, you know, here looking at LeBron as unstoppable, that you can't stop him now. What is the sense that you feel from your players right now, and is it any different from how you guys felt going down 3-2 to Miami last year?
COACH SAUNDERS: No, I think that the players are very much -- I think we have -- whether we win here or go home, they're the same. Whether win, lose, draw, they have the same attitude, no matter if it's Game 6, Game 7, Game 1, Game 2, preseason, exhibition, that's always been kind of their -- the players' mentality. So they're out there going into it that way.
I'm sure we have -- in Cleveland they're lacking any kind of championship, and I'm sure the city would like that, there has also been a lot of disappointments.

Q. Mike Brown said he expects you guys to double LeBron every time gets the ball and force other guys to win the game. Is that what you guys are going to have to --
COACH SAUNDERS: I think you have to do both. I think LeBron is -- his thing where he's matured so much, he's proven you can't give him a steady dose of anything, because when he has a steady dose, he has the ability to lead and he's making great plays, whether it's an aggressive play for himself or a play as far as for somebody else, but there is no question that we can't let him get into the type of rhythm he got into as far as last night because he had a couple layups going, and a couple jumpers, and he became virtually unbelievably strong.

Q. Is it a matter of doing the same thing but doing it better?
COACH SAUNDERS: No, I think you have to change things up. Like I said, I mean, I think like any good players they become accustomed to the same thing after you keep on doing it. So I think that's why you keep changing the players up, that's why we tried to put Lindsey on him for a while, Rip, and Rip got in foul trouble, we had Tay on him, we tried putting Chauncey on him for a while, with Chauncey's strength.
I mean, all you have to do is depending in the situation, I think I said -- it's not like we've been blown out by 20. But we've got to still do different things and hope that something is going to help as far as for a four- or five-minute stretch. That's what you have to do. You can't just say -- we did do a good job in there in Game 1 and 2.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SAUNDERS: We actually defended him pretty well last night until the fourth quarter, last night. Then he got on an unbelievable roll.

Q. Tayshaun had that nice stretch where he was really scoring, did they do anything different? Because the ball seemed to stop going to him for quite a while after that.
COACH SAUNDERS: They came to him, they came at him. They forced him twice, they came to him and he had two turnovers. They forced him to spit it up and unfortunately he didn't make the right decision in that situation.

Q. (Inaudible) You were subbing late in the game, and not all the subs being on the same page in terms of the defense they ran, was there any confusion there?
COACH SAUNDERS: Well, there were guys that hadn't been in that situation. We had Maxie, who is a young player, he was in there, and I think he became a little bit more confused on the plays they ran and his coverage a little bit. But other than that, like I said, that was probably the only one. I don't think that -- (Inaudible) We switched on him and he made some great individual moves, and got by us so quick, other people couldn't help. I don't think it was totally the way we were (inaudible).
Maxie is a young player, it's growing experience, he hasn't been in that situation, and that's one of the things that hurt with McDyess being out of the game. You know, a veteran 6'10" player that has size and quickness, and the ability to block shots and protect the rim.

Q. Talk about McDyess and his role. (Inaudible.)
COACH SAUNDERS: Even last season we played him a lot down the stretch, in the last couple minutes, and then he came in. His ability to block shots, guard people out on the floor and be a threat as far as to make shots. So not having him I think, it hurt us a little bit from having some flexibility defensively and offensively.

Q. Was he emotional? How did he handle that yesterday?
COACH SAUNDERS: We came in, he was there until halftime and by the time the game was done he was gone. He's fine. He's fine.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SAUNDERS: Well, I think it happened -- Antonio McDyess, it happened so quick, and the difference was that Andy was airborne, where Rasheed wasn't airborne, he was more on the floor, and because he was airborne, he was going hard and Dyess was going hard -- I don't think he wanted to intentionally go after his head, I think he wanted a good play on the ball, you know, but Andy came with such force and everything else, that, you know, how he was moving he kind of -- he tried to change his body language, but he came on across and got him in the head. Like I said, you've got two guys that are both moving so quick.
I think when Rasheed's happened, I don't think it was what I consider that quick.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SAUNDERS: He has thoughts on everything. I think it's the beard.

Q. On that last play it looked like Rasheed was wanting to help on Donyell and then wanting to go in, do you think he should have left Donyell stay out there?
COACH SAUNDERS: Well, that's a catch 22, because, yeah, our weak-side guys didn't get there quite as quick. So I can't talk to that, because he was -- he tried to get there as quick as he could and still be in a position to help out, but the help didn't come from the weak side, those are the guys that -- there was another time that Sheed was matched up on Eric Snow, (inaudible) he was left on Eric Snow, down in the corner and that shouldn't happen very often.

Q. Talk about when Chauncey took that three at the end of regulation.
COACH SAUNDERS: Well, I mean, you want to get a shot off, which he did, and he got a pretty good look and it kind of went in and out. I think you put the ball in his hands. He's made enough big shots in the end that you give the ball to him. I thought he was probably going to take the three at that point, and I thought he tried to get a foul, but he got a pretty good shot. You put the game in the hands of the referees, and at that point he's got to do what he's comfortable with, and he's made enough of those shots.

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