ECF Practice Day Interviews May 25 2007

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  1. roscoe36

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    NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: CAVALIERS v PISTONS

    CLEVELAND, OHIO: Practice Day
    May 25, 2007

    Anderson Varejao



    Q. Maybe it's just because you're more active?

    Anderson Varejao: I try to be active all the time, trying to play like with energy, try to more stop against them, and also play more. When you play more, you have more chance for more stops.



    Q. Do you think you and Rasheed are building a rivalry? Do you think you guys are building that against each other in this series?

    Anderson Varejao: Building what?



    Q. Like a rivalry, like a competition between the two of you.

    Anderson Varejao: I have to guard him and he has to guard me. I don't know, just like I said, I don't think it's nothing personal, I just try to help the team. I try to guard him, I'm going to try to guard him hard.



    Q. He was talking about you flopping on that last play. Do you think you did?

    Anderson Varejao: I don't know, I was in good position to be at his ribs a lot, and the referees didn't make the call.



    Q. Are you surprised? Did you think you were going to get a foul called there?

    Anderson Varejao: I don't know, I just tried to try my best. I tried my best to be in good position and the ref didn't make the call, move on.



    Q. This series, the more you go on, it seems like at least one player on the other team gets tired of playing against you. It seems like you've been able to do that, you seem to irritate them with your style of play. You've done that your whole career really. Have you noticed that?

    Anderson Varejao: I don't know. I don't know if they get tired. I keep doing that, keep doing my job, and see what's going to happen.



    Q. Somewhere inside you does it make you happy when people talk about how much you bother them?

    Anderson Varejao: Well, I think where I come from we play like that all the time. It doesn't make me happy or unhappy, I just want to win the games.
  2. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: CAVALIERS v PISTONS

    CLEVELAND, OHIO: Practice Day
    May 25, 2007

    Sasha Pavlovich


    Q. How do you take a negative and turn it into a positive from the last two games going forward?

    Sasha Pavlovic: We have to close out the game. We were ahead in the second game at halftime and we let them come back. We shouldn't have let them do that. The rest of the games I think we have to come out like they did and just come out and help each other and try to win.



    Q. Does it surprise you about these first two games of the series, how they played and how they went against you and things like that?

    Sasha Pavlovic: Well, I think both games, I think we have a good team enough to beat them. I'm surprised we let them come back in both games, like I said. If we just stick together and play together, we're going to win the game.
  3. roscoe36

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    NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: CAVALIERS v PISTONS

    CLEVELAND, OHIO: Practice Day
    May 25, 2007

    Donyell Marshall



    Q. Detroit is coming out really strong in the third quarter, what do you have to do to snap them out of it, or is it just mindset?

    Donyell Marshall: I don't know. You know, I think in a lot of games this year we had a tough time in the third quarter, not coming out of the locker room the right way. Yesterday we knew it was very important, we came out, we got a good warm-up and things like that. I think we've just got to somehow keep the same mentality in the second quarter where we're attacking, we were getting to the rim, we had the floor spread and stuff. Third quarter we tried to make it happen and get to the basket. You know, they did a good job packing it in, and we just didn't come out with the intensity as we did, the way we had.



    Q. Two games that could have gone either way, that you could have won, does it help your confidence knowing you were right there or does it hurt your confidence that you weren't able to finish it?

    Donyell Marshall: We're going to stay confident through this series. You know, don't get me wrong, last year (Inaudible) compared to last year, but we thought we played well, especially in their environment, in a hostile environment.

    We're going to stay confident until this series is over. Even if we're down 3-0, we're going to stay confident. That's just the way we are. That's the way we've been. We wouldn't get this far if we weren't confident. I'm here in the locker room right now and you see all the laughing and joking and smiling, and we're going to stay relaxed. We're going to stay confident.



    Q. (Inaudible).

    Donyell Marshall: I think it's more of an opportunity because we're able to set the floor for LeBron and he can get to the basket, and when we play that way I think it's almost pick your poison. You know, he packs the paint in, he does a good job of finding us and we're able to shoot. As long as we're making shots, it makes it easier for him. If he stays at home with us, then it's easier for him to get to the basket. It's a good thing, but we've still got to be able to take advantage of Drew and Andy, as well.

    Right now we've got to make sure we're knowing who we go with. I mean, first game our inside game was going well, the second game we were able to spread the floor. Right now it's just a way to try to put those things together.
  4. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: CAVALIERS v PISTONS

    CLEVELAND, OHIO: Practice Day
    May 25, 2007

    LeBron James


    LeBron James: I seen Coach's reaction after the play. You seen me and the referee talk about what happened during the course of that play. I've just got to move on. I can't do nothing more than just try to be aggressive when I play. I made contact. I mean, things happen like that, I guess.



    Q. Did you expect a whistle on the first contact when he first got you on the drive?

    LeBron James: Well, I thought so. You're not allowed to use your hands on the perimeter once a guy starts penetrating towards the basket. There was a lot of physical contact throughout the course of the game, so I don't want to look back at just that one play, but it could have made a difference.



    Q. Would you have done anything differently at the end of the game?

    LeBron James: Absolutely not. I wanted to be aggressive, and I was able to do that and I was able to create some contact.



    Q. Were you going to do the spin move? Did the early contact kind of take that out of play?

    LeBron James: Well, no, I found that he was right on one side of my move, so I was able to spin, and once I went up to my shot, I felt some more contact. But I guess -- you call this playoff basketball, I do the best I can do and hopefully we get some respect at some point.



    Q. Were you feeling like you wanted to be more aggressive in this game since Game 1 you made the pass, this time you took it yourself?

    LeBron James: No, I still made some passes throughout the course of the ballgame. I made one that was called for a turnover that wasn't a turnover on Sasha. We had an open look and he was able to pass the ball before it landed.

    But I try to take what's there. You don't want to try to force anything because they're a very good defensive team. We fell short again.



    Q. What's going on in the third quarter? Why is it you guys have just been flat --

    LeBron James: I don't know, I can't put a finger on it right now. If we could, we'd be able to fix it. We can't put our finger on it right now, but it has to get better and soon, or we're not going to be in the best position possible in this series. We have to try our best, try to fix it and come out in the third quarter with a little bit more focus, try to attack their pressure because they come out with a lot of aggressiveness on the defensive end and just try to get better. We have to do it now. We can't wait until Game 4. We have to do it now. We have to get better at it.



    Q. What is going on in the third quarter? Is it just slow?

    LeBron James: We're starting off with too many jump shots. We're having a lead, we feel like we can continue to shoot jump shots and then they get on the other end and they get fouls or they get dunks or they get lay-ups. They do a better job of trying to go inside, trying to get some contact, trying to get early in the penalty in the third quarter. I have to do a better job of that, also, and my team has to do a better job of reacting to what's going on in the third.



    Q. People like to talk about good leaders should be able to push their teams to do more, is there anything more that you personally can do for this team?

    LeBron James: Yeah, I have to, or we're not going to win this series, simple as that. I'm the leader of this team and I have to do more on the defensive end and offensive end. For us to win ballgames, we have to make better decisions down the stretch and eliminate some of the mistakes that I make throughout the course of the ballgame. It is some room for improvement with us, and we have time. Have to win four out of five. It's not impossible, but we have to do it now.



    Q. Are there any other resources besides watching the film and practicing as a team regularly that you're going to do on your own?

    LeBron James: I don't know, you just have to wing it. You just have to see during the course of the ballgame what's there for you as an individual, what's there for your team, what's the best fit, and we have to go with it. At a point if we have something that's very comfortable to us, we have to stick with it. Everyone just has to continue to play hard, which we've done the first two games but we haven't played hard enough to win.



    Q. Can you just also talk about the defense that Rasheed Wallace is playing on you.

    LeBron James: He's playing great. I think we didn't know how well of a shot blocker he was until this series, and he's definitely playing great, using his length. He's definitely done a good job on the offensive end, too. He's definitely one of the best power forwards in this league. His numbers don't speak for it, but everyone knows how well of a player he is.



    Q. When is the last time there was this much second-guessing about you? We've heard a little in the regular season about the last-minute shots, but it's like a debate now.

    LeBron James: Because I'm still in the playoffs, I guess. You wouldn't talk about it if I was at home, you know? You have to have something to talk about. I make the decisions and I live with them. You know, my teammates respect the decisions that I make and I've always come through for them, if it's either late or early in the game. It doesn't bother me at all.



    Q. Do you kind of laugh at the "should have been shooting the ball," "should have been passing"?

    LeBron James: Definitely. You shut all that up by trying to win ballgames. You win and they have nothing to talk about.



    Q. Was there any thought of attacking earlier on that last possession?

    LeBron James: No, I wanted to -- when I decided to attack I wanted -- the best thing I wanted to do was, hey, if I get the ball to the rim, just give us another opportunity to get a look at it, and we did. Larry got a great look and Andy got a great tip at it. So I started to attack, I seen him start to shift and I backed up a little bit more and I started to attack again and created some contact and created some more contact and we was able to get another look at it. You live with it.



    Q. Do you chalk both of these games up as lessons for you and this team?

    LeBron James: I think it's all about paying dues right now, you know, earning respect. You look at it, you can say, hey, these guys have been in the Conference Finals five years in a row. This is our first time in a long time. Right now it seems like it's about paying our dues and earning respect to everybody.



    Q. Did Wade get calls because he and Shaq had never been in The Finals before? That was their first time to get that far, that group.

    LeBron James: I'm not sure.



    Q. Talk about the challenge of being down two games.

    LeBron James: It's a challenge, but it's nothing we haven't been part of before. We was down 2-0 to these guys last year, even though last year is not this year, but we've been in this situation. It's always good to be in certain situations. We've been up 2-0, we've been down 2-0, so we have to see how we react.

    Our fans are great and hopefully they'll do a great job of supporting us on Sunday.



    Q. Is it easier to double-team when they're kind of in the floating zone because they don't have to get back to a guy under the rules?

    LeBron James: I think it is. You know, you just don't care about where your man is, they can just kind of react to letting the pass go and kind of react to it. They have a great defensive strategy. Those guys are doing a great job of just trying to make me do some things that's out of my comfort zone.



    Q. You're kind of the last superstar in the postseason. I don't know if that kind of hit you when you guys started this Conference Finals. Mostly it's teams that are left. Does that kind of say something to you as far as where you have to get to?

    LeBron James: It says that I'm just not a one-man show. That's what it says to me. I have a great team, and out of 30 teams we're still here. You know, no one ever looks at that, they just look at, hey, we had an easy run, we played a team in Washington that was depleted and we played a team in New Jersey that had no inside presence, but it's never the Cavs won these ballgames. It's never that. Whenever anybody else wins, they did a great job of executing, they did a great job of winning ballgames down the stretch. But when we win it's like the other team was depleted or they didn't do a great job of making things happen. It's just we have to earn respect. I don't know how we do that, but I guess you do it by winning, and we've done nothing but win in this postseason.



    Q. I'm sure you were chomping at the bit last night to say something, why not, to kind of get your team going?

    LeBron James: We don't want to make excuses. We've been a no-excuse team all year. Everyone knows how we felt throughout the course of that game, but we got an opportunity to really calm down and prepare ourselves for Game 3. It was definitely a situation where maybe things could have got out of hand on that podium with me up there last night and with Coach, also. You guys could see it in our guys that we maybe wanted to say something, but it's not about that. You have to just learn from what happened and maybe try to execute a little bit better the next time.
  5. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: CAVALIERS v PISTONS

    CLEVELAND, OHIO: Practice Day
    May 25, 2007

    Zydrunas Ilgauskas



    Zydrunas Ilgauskas: Obviously, like you said, we had an opportunity to win both and we came up empty handed. We've got to forget about these two games. They're gone. We can't do anything about them. They did what they were supposed to do with their home-court advantage. Now it's up to us. We have to win these next two games to give ourselves a chance.



    Q. Playing as close to them as you did and not getting a win, does that help the confidence or does it hurt the confidence?

    Zydrunas Ilgauskas: It doesn't hurt. This is a confident team. You know, we've been through a lot this season. More than anything, maybe after the game it makes it harder to digest because knowing how close we were. Like last year, the first two games in the semifinals, we really didn't have a chance, so that was really a little bit easier to take than these ones because they were heart-breakers.



    Q. What do you have to do differently in the third quarter?

    Zydrunas Ilgauskas: You know, it's always something, each game different. It seems like we do come out flat after halftime. We've tried to do different things, warmed up and everything as a team, but nothing seemed to work. We do have to come out better at halftime.
  6. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: CAVALIERS v PISTONS

    CLEVELAND, OHIO: Practice Day
    May 25, 2007

    Drew Gooden


    Q. First game, tight game, second game, they win. How do you balance things out on offense with your shooting opportunities?

    Drew Gooden: I think that's something that's a coach's decision. It's something we're going through, and that's why (Inaudible).



    Q. You were so close twice, does it help your confidence knowing that you were so close in both games or does it hurt your confidence that you were right there and didn't get it done?

    Drew Gooden: It doesn't hurt my confidence because until like -- it was like a measuring stick, those two games. Actually the first game, it lets you know where we're at, and we do have confidence coming into -- having two home games, so I think it'll carry over.



    Q. Will you change anything for these next two games coming up?

    Drew Gooden: Yeah, I mean, we made counter moves, but again, the game played out at the very end, it was just Game 1. So we'll probably have to make some more changes, but other than that, I think possessions are very valuable and I think we're going to find that out.



    Q. What do you do in the third quarter? I mean, you guys have tried to shake it up a little bit. What can you do?

    Drew Gooden: Like I said, it's a lot of things. I can't say we did anything wrong, but one thing is valuing possession of the ball.
  7. roscoe36

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    NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: CAVALIERS v PISTONS

    CLEVELAND, OHIO: Practice Day
    May 25, 2007

    Mike Brown


    Q. How do you calibrate between being a no-excuse team and maybe coming in and taking league discipline and people saying, he's standing up for a superstar, and making a statement about something like that?

    Coach Mike Brown: Taking who's discipline?



    Q. Taking a fine or something like that along those lines.

    Coach Mike Brown: We're new to the game when it comes to the Eastern Conference Finals, and Detroit is not, obviously. They know how the game is supposed to be played at this level. You know, I feel like if I blame this or I blame that, any outside influence, then I'm giving -- I'm letting us off the hook and giving us an excuse. I don't want to be about that. I want to control -- I want us to control our own destiny, so we've just got to play better.

    The easiest thing is to go in there -- I make good money, so I might have to take a $10,000 fine or a $50,000, fine. My wife might beat me up a little bit, but to me that's just letting us off the hook and adding fuel to a fire that doesn't even need to be there.



    Q. Last year, I know Shaq had been there a lot, but basically that Miami had just paraded to the line --

    Coach Mike Brown: Yeah, it might. I'm just saying they might have. I don't remember.



    Q. And against you, too, 25 times against you guys once this year, too.

    Coach Mike Brown: Yeah, he's a tough guy, tough cover, and sometimes he gets in those modes where when he's attacking he gets sent to the free-throw line, and so do we. LeBron has gone to the floor 20-plus times, a couple times during the course of the year. We've got to stay with it. We've got to keep trying to attack, keep trying to execute offensively and then keep trying to do what we're doing a decent job of, which is defending.



    Q. You said you wanted your team to control its own destiny, but in essence you have controlled your own destiny the last two games. You had the lead last night. I mean, what is stopping you from taking that last, basically one minute left to seal out the win?

    Coach Mike Brown: We're not playing good enough.



    Q. Is it mental, physical?

    Coach Mike Brown: They're executing a little bit better than us down the stretch, offensively or defensively. They're doing just a little bit more than what we're doing to get over the hump.

    In the first game they came up with a big offensive rebound, and off the offensive rebound they hit a big three. If we come out with the offensive rebound, which we should have because we have inside position, maybe they don't hit that three, you know.

    Down the stretch last night we had a couple turnovers that cost us, so we've got to make sure that we're even better than what we have been throughout the course of the game and down the stretch in order to get a win.



    Q. Did you think Andy's position came into play on the Rasheed shot?

    Coach Mike Brown: I mean, I don't know. You'd have to ask the three officials or call the League and ask the League on that because I have no idea. I know Andy plays hard and he's done a nice job in this series, and Rasheed hit a hell of a shot. I didn't even think LeBron was there. I didn't think anybody was there to contest the shot, but after going back and watching the tape, man, LeBron was right there and Rasheed was fading and turning to the baseline.

    It was an unbelievable shot.



    Q. You guys have changed the way sometimes that you warm up, coming out in the second half, warming up as a team as opposed to just guys shooting around. What can you do to maybe step out of --

    Coach Mike Brown: I have no clue what we have done in the past or what we're doing right now in the second half when it comes to warming up. I don't tell our guys to go do this or go do that. Speaking of warm-ups, I can't help you there.



    Q. How do you get a better jump on the third quarter?

    Coach Mike Brown: We've got to play better. It's a good team, and that team has something to do with it. We've just got to do a better job of focusing and not letting them be the aggressors because they're coming out, they've come out and they've been the aggressors, and it's shown as the series has gone on.



    Q. Are they doing anything on the court at the beginning of the third quarter or are you just not --

    Coach Mike Brown: They're coming out and they're being really aggressive. Defensively they're up in our chests and they're denying and picking up full court and harassing us. That's what they're doing defensively. We're running the same plays that we've been running. We ran some of the same plays we ran in the second quarter to score points.

    And then offensively they're being aggressive. Like Chauncey, you know, in that third quarter, Chauncey comes off a pin-down, and without hesitation he rises up and he shoots that jumper. He didn't do that at all in the first half. You could just see his demeanor change, you could see Rip Hamilton's demeanor change. Even Chris Webber has had some nice third quarters because of their aggressiveness on the offensive end of the floor trying to get us on our heels.



    Q. Sasha took the shot on your first possession of the second half, he didn't shoot again the rest of the quarter, is there a reason for that?

    Coach Mike Brown: Again, watching the tape, they turned it up and they put two or three guys in there trying to touch the ball. And you know, somebody showed me a quote that Chauncey had a while back, and this might have been in the regular season, he said, hey, LeBron is a great player, and we're going to stop him and we're going to see if other guys can beat us. We had some good looks, but our first ten possessions, Sasha had an 11-footer, and then other than that, everything was outside of 18 feet or turnovers, and you're not going to win many ballgames within the first ten possessions against a team that good.



    Q. Are you playing well enough to win two games in a row? Does it help the confidence that you guys were right there on the road in the Conference Finals, or does it hurt the confidence knowing you didn't close it out? Does it affect it at all?

    Coach Mike Brown: Yeah, we're still confident. We still feel like we can win. We knew we had a chance to win those games. For me personally, it's not horseshoes. I want the win.



    Q. You called a time-out during the third period pretty early --

    Coach Mike Brown: Which one?



    Q. Well, the first one you left the same guys on the floor. Why not make a change back to the --

    Coach Mike Brown: The first one?



    Q. Yeah.

    Coach Mike Brown: Most times when you take an early quick time-out, you're doing it to hopefully stem the tide and settle those guys down that are out there. That's what I wanted to do. I just wanted to see if we can stem it a little bit, settle the guys. It's our starting group that's won a lot of games for us, and they really helped us get to where we are. I wanted to give them an opportunity.



    Q. You mentioned it's not horseshoes. These guys have been in organized sports for so many years, they've heard so many coaches talking to them, the things like "one game at a time" and "must-win" and all of that. How do you as a coach make an impact on them to go into this Game 3 that might impact them a little differently?

    Coach Mike Brown: It might be cliché, but you can talk to our beat writers about it. We're a one-day, one-game-at-a-time team. This series isn't over until somebody wins that fourth game. We've been in this position before and have given ourselves a chance to win. I mean, I don't think much needs to be said. I think our guys understand it. They've been in it, and they know what they're capable of doing if we put it together for an extended period.



    Q. There's been so much debate about who LeBron is and what should he have done, should he have passed, should he have shot? Is he getting superstar calls, not getting superstar calls? Do you think this debate actually serves to kind of tell us all who LeBron is during these last two games?

    Coach Mike Brown: You know, I don't know because I don't read the newspapers or watch the stuff on TV, so I don't really know. I don't have a feel for the debate. I know people talked about the last shot in Game 1, if that's what you're talking about. Is that what you're talking about? ?



    Q. Yeah, I'm talking about that, and --

    Coach Mike Brown: It was a good basketball play. A guy I believe in is Gregg Popovich, and he called me and told me it was the right play. He tells me that's a good play and I'm good to go.



    Q. There's has been so much talk about people trying to figure out who LeBron is and the hype. Who has he been to you in these playoffs and especially the last two games?

    Coach Mike Brown: He's been LeBron James, a 22-year-old superstar that's growing and learning every day and that's going to get better day by day. That's who he is. It's helped us win a lot of ballgames. He's nothing more, he's nothing less. He's terrific in my opinion. It's good for you guys to have something to talk about, so I'm okay with it, and he's okay with it, too.



    Q. What do you see him learning in the next couple games?

    Coach Mike Brown: What do I see him learning? It's a great defensive team, so he has to learn how to beat a double-team, he has to learn how to beat a triple-team, not just with average players in front of him, he has long, athletic, smart players in front of him. They throw different schemes at him all the time because they've played together for such a long time, they just feed off of one another. It's not the same thing all the time. They really do a nice job of mixing it up.

    So being put in those different situations, going through those types of experiences gives him an opportunity to get better for the next time, you know, and on the other end of the floor, we're trying to throw a lot of different coverages at them, too.

    Just like the rest of the team, he's got to adjust and learn and cover for his teammates on stuff like that on the fly.



    Q. Has he shown you a killer instinct in these last few games?

    Coach Mike Brown: Yep.



    Q. Does he need it to get this team to The Finals?

    Coach Mike Brown: He's got to keep doing what he's doing. He's got to keep being -- especially like yesterday, he's got to keep being aggressive, keep driving the ball. If we don't get the ball then you've got to drive it harder, simple as that.



    Q. How can you get Drew and Larry going a little bit more?

    Coach Mike Brown: How can I get those guys going a little bit more?



    Q. Is there anything you can adjust, especially with Larry getting out of a slump?

    Coach Mike Brown: They've just got to keep playing hard, keep trying to knock down shots when they get the opportunity. Drew has got to do a better job of rebounding for us, I think. He's right around 20, 21 minutes a game and I think he's right around three rebounds a game. He's got to do a better job in that area. Larry is going to have opportunities to knock down shots because of the attention that they're paying to LeBron.

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