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InsideHoops [NBA Playoffs]

Mike D'Antoni Interview




| June 1, 2006

Mike D'AntoniIn the Western conference finals of the 2006 NBA Playoffs the Phoenix Suns beat the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 to tie the series 2-2. Here's what Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said to the media the next day:

Q.On Raja Bell:

COACH MIKE D'ANTONI: Heís just a great leader and a great player. We think heís a great three-point shooter. Heís expanded his game and he has every since coming into the league. And now heís been put into a situation where his character has been revealed for everyone and more so. You know, if youíre never in those situations, itís hard to say you have it in you. We thought he did and heís proven that he has more than anybody ever imagined.

Q. On Leandro Barbosa:

COACH MIKE D'ANTONI: Like Iíve said before, I was surprised when Leandro didnít play well the first two games. Whether he can play better in Game 5 you never know because thatís a pretty unbelievable performance [in Game 4] for a 23-year-old kid the first time at this level. Weíll have to wait and see but I would be pretty surprised if he didnít, but that doesnít mean he will.

Q. On Avery Johnson and Mike Dunleavy commenting on how tough a matchup Barbosa is:

COACH MIKE D'ANTONI: When youíre the fastest guy in the league, itís difficult for anybody. And heís one of the best three-point shooters. He comes at you in a blur and it is tough. If we can get the floor spread enough to where youíre out there naked with LB, itís going to be tough for anybody.

Q. On all the negative talk in the media before Game 4:

COACH MIKE D'ANTONI: I probably created it. I said we didnít have the energy and I donít think we explained it enough. Thereís no one in there who took the night off because itís not important. Maybe the heaviness of the game, even the crowd, we were afraid to get into the balance, afraid to mess up. I think that led to a little bit of a low-energy game, not that they took the night off. I think itís sometimes misconstrued a little bit. This time of year nobody has a lack of effort, itís just a lack of the right persona or aura to go into a game and try to win it instead of trying not to lose it. We canít play like that because we play one way. Weíre one-dimensional, and thatís because Amarť is out. Weíve done pretty well with that one dimension and we know who we are. We donít have a problem knowing who we are or how we have to do it. We just have to do it.

Q. On Boris Diaw:

COACH MIKE D'ANTONI: Heís been great. You see something new everyday. He was aggressive and fantastic. He made some mistakes early, little shots here and there, but overall he turned it on big. I thought he did a good job picking his spots and the whole team did. We were too aggressive in Game 3 instead of just letting the plays happen like we did last night.

Q. On the reputation of his teamís style:

COACH MIKE D'ANTONI: I think we have a confidence that if we are on our A-game that nobody can beat us. I really believe that. You know itís funny. You can talk about other teams being really good defensively, but when they play against us we score 110 points. Everybody says, Ďwell thatís because youíre so good offensivelyí. Well, that counts. We donít think any good defensive team can stop us and if they canít stop us weíre winning. We have that confidence. Now, whether thatís completely trueóthatís our thinking. I understand the flip-side of it.

Q. On how championship teams impose their defensive will:

COACH MIKE D'ANTONI: Well, we will impose our will, itís just on the other side of the floor. There are two ends of the floor and weíre doing it on the other end. We think we can play good enough defense. We can play better defense against you than you can play against us because of our offenseóif that makes sense. Now thatís what we think and thatís the mentality that we can win with.

Q. On playing Game 5 like an elimination game?

COACH MIKE D'ANTONI: Weíve talked about it because this is a little bit bigger than us being able to say Ďwe donít need to win thisí. This is getting us into something that these guys have never experience before and thatís the finals. This is a big step coming up here for anybodyófor them and us. And weíre going to use that. T his is a Game 7 for us, not a Game 5. This is a Game 7 and weíre going in with that mentality and this is the one we want. Now, if you donít get it, you have Game 6 and you keep going on. But we prepare mentally like this is for all the marbles.

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