Flip Saunders Interview
Friday night in the 2006 NBA Playoffs the Miami Heat beat the Detroit Pistons, winning Game 6 and the Eastern conference Finals. The Pistons had a great regular season, but fell short in the playoffs. Here's Detroit head coach Flip Saunders in the post-game press conference:
Q. I wanted to ask you, do you think that tonight maybe... it did not seem like you guys had the energy. Maybe it was you guys just ran out of fuel? What do you think about that?
FLIP SAUNDERS: What happens, one, sometimes when you don't make shots, you run out of fuel. We didn't make shots from the beginning, we were fighting uphill most of the way and couldn't get over the hump. Shaq was great early, established things as far as early, and I said before the game that usually in these games what happens is some role player steps up and is the guy that is really the determining factor in the game, and I thought Jason Williams was the determining factor. He had 21, 10 for 12 from the field, and he played extreme aggressive.
Q. It seemed this was a night where Rasheed never got into any kind of flow.
FLIP SAUNDERS: He struggled the whole series. He really struggled to get into any flow. He's one of those guys, we were trying to go to him hoping that he would. We fell behind so much it really took a little bit out of what we could do offensively. We had a lot of open looks. We had that one series where we had four straight threes in 2 and came up with nothing. Like I said, unfortunately for us, we didn't play how we play. I would have liked to have seen us been able to do some things to make shots, but you've got to give Miami credit. They did a nice job offensively. Shaq took away a lot of easy shots in the paint, Dwyane was phenomenal as role players.
Q. In retrospect could that Cleveland series have thrown a kink in your offense that you never got back out of?
FLIP SAUNDERS: Well, going seven games, having one-day preparation time in between, basically we lost home court. There's no question, when you go seven games, it wears you out. This team has had a phenomenal run. They've been to the Conference Finals four straight years. They've had a lot of big games and mental games, and it can wear you out as much mentally as physically. Tonight was our fourth game as far as the elimination type game. So there's no question that the Cleveland series, when you go seven like that, it does take something out of you.
Q. This tailspin started that night in Cleveland when Rasheed rolled his ankle. Was there a combination effect or are you going to need some distance in order to figure out what happened?
FLIP SAUNDERS: Well, you've got to go back and look at things. I can say tonight was a lot of what happened to us. When you don't make shots, you put too much pressure on your defense you're going to scramble defensively and you can't lock in. You can't be as good as you want to be. There's no question that Sheed was our inside factor. He gave us a presence both blocking shots... I don't know if he had a blocked shot tonight. Both him and Ben did that.
A game like tonight when you fall behind so much, it takes away the best thing... you try to get more offense on the floor if you can, and it was just one of those things that we never got into the rhythm that we have. It's one of those things you have to look at and reevaluate.
Q. Coach, could you just briefly talk about the last-minute news about Dwyane Wade, if it affected anything that you talked to your team about prior to the game, and assess his performance tonight under the circumstances.
FLIP SAUNDERS: We didn't really talk about it before the game, and I thought that he was somewhat quiet early but then in the third quarter when he came back in, that's when he really distanced himself from us. He made, again, some phenomenal shots. He's had a phenomenal series.
Q. All season long these guys talked about winning an NBA title. Anything less than that would be looked at as a failure. Now that the season is over, do you feel as though this season was a failure?
FLIP SAUNDERS: Well, I think we had a great year, but ultimately every team that comes in when you start October 3rd you have one goal in mind, and ultimately there's failure for 29 teams and success for one team, and that's pretty much how you judge it.