Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA Playoffs – Thursday, May 28, 2009: “Some of that stepping up has to come from the (Cleveland) coaching staff as well.”

(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

TNT’s exclusive coverage of the Eastern Conference Finals continues on Saturday, May 30 with pre-game coverage beginning at 8 p.m. ET, followed by Game #6 of the Cleveland Cavaliers @ Orlando Magic at 8:30 p.m. ET.

TNT NBA Tip-off presented by

Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith

Smith on the how the Cavaliers can still use their home court advantage to win the series: “(The Cavaliers) are actually in a good position to (come back and win the series), they have two games possibly at home and that’s how you have to look at it. So you say tonight there is no way we can lose at home, there is no way that (Orlando) will celebrate and go to the NBA Finals on our court. The most pressure is Game #6 and if they lose that they know they have to come back here and beat us and they know they will not do that.”

Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown on needing someone from the bench to step up in order to beat the Magic: “We need someone that has not stepped up, someone that is not known quote on quote for ‘stepping up’ point-wise whether it’s Wally Szczerbiak, Sasha Pavlovic, Daniel Gibson, Joe Smith, we need one of those guys to step up.”

Barkley on Cavaliers guards Mo Williams and Delonte West being worn down from their defensive assignments: “I’m on the fence with Mo Williams and Delonte West.  They are guarding guys who are so much bigger. They are both small guys to begin with and having to push and shove with Rashard Lewis and (Hedo) Turkoglu all game has really worn them down. They missed some shots, but they are both little guys to start with and then having to wrestle Rashard Lewis and Turkoglu, they are going to miss some shots.”

Smith on the Cavaliers coaches having a misstep in Game #1 and needing to step up and make adjustments against the Magic: “Some of that stepping up has to come from the (Cleveland) coaching staff as well. I don’t think overall, to be honest, they have done a great job getting beat differently each game. The Orlando Magic have won each game pretty much the same way.  The biggest decision I thought was in Game #1 when you elect to take the second best defender in the NBA in LeBron James and put him on Rafer Alston and say, ‘you don’t guard him.’ So you’re making your best defender not guarding someone.  I thought that was the biggest step that probably changed the series.”

Smith on the way the Magic should approach the close-out Game #5 mentally: “One thing we used to always say in close-out games is everybody stay in character. Don’t get out of character because it’s the close-out game. We stay in character with the things we’ve done to get here and it’s going to be good enough because we’re in a close-out game.”

TNT aired a feature on former NBA player Rodney Rogers who was injured in a dirt bike accident in November 2008. Rogers broke his neck and is a quadriplegic. Friend and former Sixers teammate Chris Webber conducted Rogers’ first exclusive interview.

Barkley on Rodney Rogers: “We play sports. You play sports and you are so physical and it just becomes a part of your life. (Rodney Rogers) impressed me with how strong he is and being in good spirits, but my heart just hurts for him. I’ve been so physical my entire life…I just feel bad.  The first time I played against him, on the Dream Team they brought a bunch of college all-stars in there and people don’t know, but they beat us the first time we played them. We played them later and beat them by 40 because it pissed us off. But I had to guard (Rogers) and this guy was so physically imposing, he was a left-handed three-point shooter and he could post up. They just kicked our butt really good and I thought, ‘I’m glad I’m leaving the NBA soon.’  He’s just a nice man.  Once you are a part of the NBA family you are one of us and we feel for you. I just wish him and (fiancé Faye) the best and his three kids.”

Smith on the encouragement Rodney Rogers gives: “I’ve know Rodney, his family and his daughters have come to my basketball camps. I’m encouraged. I’ve been blessed in that when I was an 11th grader there was a wheelchair basketball tournament in New York City. Every year you go to go a hospital to visit, I’ve been doing that since I was an NBA player and since then, so I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of people in Rodney Rogers’ shoes. During that I saw how they lived life and not look at life with the things they don’t have and understand you can’t do the same things you used to do. But your fiancé is still there for you, your family still loves you and your kids are still there. I’m encouraged by that.”

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Orlando Magic (102) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (112) – The Magic lead the series 3-2.

Announcers: Marv Albert and Reggie Miller; with Craig Sager reporting

Miller on the Cavaliers defense having a strong start to the game: “This is what you want when you’re struggling and you’re down 3-1, let your defense do your talking for you.”

Miller on the Magic needing to increase their intensity: “In a close-out game it’s never easy and it’s the little things. You have to do the little things, especially when you have a team that you’re ready to close out on the road. You’ve got to come out with a higher sense of intensity.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interview Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy after the first quarter.

Van Gundy on whether he is more upset about the Cavs having 35 points or the Magic only having 18: “It all goes hand in hand. They are scoring every time and we’re getting nothing in transition. They are just much quicker than we are at both ends. Their rotations are much better, their ball movement, they are going right by us at both ends.”

Van Gundy on the Magic’s first quarter performance: “That was the worst we’ve played, even compared to the first two games.”

“From the start of this second quarter I like the Magic’s defense so far, allowing only one possession, getting into shooters and then executing at the offensive end.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, former pitcher for the Cleveland Indians.

Sabathia on how he feels about the Cavaliers being down to the Magic 3-1 in the series: “I am shocked. The way they’ve been rolling these playoffs, it was hard to predict that they would be down 3-1. But you can never count them out, they’ve got the best player in the game on your team so we’ll see what happens.”

Sabathia on what it would mean to the city of Cleveland for the Cavaliers to win the NBA title: “I think it would be huge for this city, this city is starving for a champion. We came close a couple of times, but couldn’t get it done. But they’ve got the right cats to get it done, you’ve just got to overcome this small little mountain.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Cavaliers forward LeBron James at halftime.

James on how the Magic came back from being down in the first half: “They started to get some good looks and we gave them a lot of second chance points. Dwight got a couple ‘and ones,’ it’s something we have to key in on the second half to win the ball game.”

James on how he will approach the second half: “I’m going to take what the defense gives me, we all need to be a little more aggressive and do a little bit better job in the second half.”

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T-Mobile Halftime Report

Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith

Smith on Cavaliers forward LeBron James needing to guard either Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu or Rashard Lewis: “The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t made an adjustment, particularly on how to guard people and how to guard the Orlando Magic. The best player and the best defender is LeBron James and he’s not guarding any of their best offensive players. When the ball goes inside and you go double, when you have Delonte West or Mo Williams running after Rashard Lewis, (James) has the three or the runner so (Lewis) never has to change up or have any pressure of having LeBron (guard him). You have to have LeBorn James guard (Hedo) Turkoglu or Rashard Lewis if you want to have a chance of sustaining the lead because those guys are having a field day.”

Barkley on having smaller players guard you: “You heard of the limo guy? We sent a limo for those guys. I don’t want them to have no car accidents, I don’t want them to be late. I’m going to send a limo to their house to make sure they get to the game on time. You start foaming at the mouth when you see those guys.”

Barkley on the Cavaliers needing to play at a faster pace as they did when they got off to a good start at the beginning of the game: “The thing they do that annoys me, I’ve criticized them the past couple of years for it, for playing too slow. You see how they started out fast (tonight)? I don’t understand why they don’t play like that all the time. When they start playing slow that’s when they struggle, when LeBron (James) has to go one on five.”

Barkley on Magic center Dwight Howard:“I love Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and Carmelo (Anthony) has played great. But welcome to the party, Dwight Howard, this guy is a flat out beast.”

Smith: “Are you saying they (Nike) are going to have to change the puppets (in their commercials)?”

Barkley: “I can see my guys at Nike right now scrambling. All the puppets look alike so they just change Dwight’s voice.”

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Miller on Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao’s game which requires flopping: “One guy in our green room does not like the flopping of Anderson Varejao, and that would be our Sir Charles Barkley. He thinks every play out there Varejao is flopping all over the place. I was telling him, ‘you can’t be mad at Anderson Varejao, that’s his game. Some guys are great shooters, some guys are great passers, that’s Anderson Varejao’s game to get underneath the skin of the opposing big men. If that’s his game to flop and draw charges and get guys technical fouls, so be it. It’s a lot like Bill Laimbeer, everyone hated Bill Laimbeer, but if you ask Rick Mahorn and Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, he was one of the best teammates because he was one of those guys who did the dirty work.”

Miller on the Magic looking fresher than the Cavaliers: “The Magic look fresher, they look fresher and this is the team that played more games in the postseason than the Cavaliers. It looks almost like they are a half a step to a step quicker than the Cavs right now.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Cavaliers coach Mike Brown after the third quarter.

Brown on the Cavaliers needing to put pressure on the Magic defense: “We have to keep driving and kicking the basketball and when the ball goes to you, you’ve got to shoot it or drive it and put pressure on their defense like they do to us.”

Brown on whether Cavaliers forward LeBron James will stay in the game the entire fourth quarter: “He may, we’re talking about it right now. We’re fighting for our playoff lives and so if we feel we need to run him, we’ll run him.”

Miller on Cavaliers coach Mike Brown advocating more aggressive play in the fourth quarter: “Mike Brown telling them foul everyone, Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, wrap people up, we have enough bigs. Zydrunas (Ilgauskas) fouls out, (Anderson) Varejao fouls out, and he comes out with Ben Wallace.”

Miller on Cavaliers coach Mike Brown simplifying the offensive attack: “Mike Brown really simplified the offense. How about let’s put LeBron James at the top of the circle of the three point line and let him go one on one with my shooters down in the short corner. If they come to double, trust in your teammates to knock down the shot, if not; let him make the play.”

Miller on the simpler offense needing the assistance of guards for it to be effective: “We talked about trusting in your teammates and when Daniel Gibson and Mo Williams and Wally (Szczberiak) are knocking down threes, it’s going to make it tougher (for the defense) because you simplified the offense. Now it’s going to take a lot of wear and tear on his body because he has to do so much, but those guys have to knock down shots to make it effective.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Cavaliers forward LeBron James after the Cavaliers defeated the Magic to extend the series, trailing 3-2.

James on avoiding ‘going fishing’ from the TNT’s Inside the NBA crew: “This is a big game for us. You never want to disappoint the home crowd by coming out and not playing as hard as you can. It’s win or go home and there’s one thing that we don’t want to do right now and that’s seeing Ernie, Charles and Kenny putting on those fishing hats, so we gave it our all.”

James on having help from his teammates: “That’s huge, that’s what we had all year, complimentary players. Mo came out and was aggressive once again. Today it was a lot off our bench. Ben Wallace played strong in the post against Dwight, Daniel Gibson came in and gave us some big minutes and big shots, and the rest of the complimentary guys came in and did what they had to do to win the ballgame.”

James on how the Cavaliers will approach Game #6 in Orlando: “We’ve got to play the same way we played today. We’ve got to play gritty, we’ve get the ball up the court, play fast and attack. We’ve got to do everyone in our will to try to take that game away from them and try to come back here.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Announcers: Johnson, Barkley and Smith; joined by Reggie Miller

Smith on asking too much of Cavaliers forward LeBron James to carry the team for three straight games: “That’s a great, great player doing great, great things. But to me, that’s discouraging that a guy has to do that much to will a team to win a basketball game. If they are going to Orlando there have to be other contributions down the stretch because you expect Superman (Dwight Howard) to put the cape on, save the building and then at the same time go catch the train that’s falling of the track and then oh yeah, grab something to eat. It’s a lot to ask.”

Barkley on Cavaliers forward LeBron James’ performance: “That was a very impressive performance, but that’s a lot to ask one man to do for three games. It was phenomenal tonight, but you’ve got to wonder how (LeBron James) is going to feel Saturday.”

Smith on the Cavaliers not figuring out how to beat Orlando, causing concern for Game #6: “I’m not sure if they’ve figured out Orlando. The Orlando Magic haven’t even really figured out the way they played today. So there is cause for concern even in a win because what did you do that was different that actually worked? Really nothing. It’s just your guy down the stretch, you gave him the ball and said, ‘play by yourself, we’re not calling any plays, we’re going to give it to you at the top of the key for the entire fourth quarter and you can win.'”

Miller on Cavaliers forward LeBron James needing help from his teammates: “The speed that he’s coming at the Magic with, I give (Mickael) Pietrus a lot of credit because he’s doing the best job that he can do, but LeBron is just too big and too strong. But I will say this, they’re wearing (James) down.  I’m a little discouraged. I like the win, they did what they had to, but I want to see is Boobie (Daniel) Gibson, Mo Williams and Wally Szczerbiak, is their game going to travel? If they are making shots like that in Orlando, we’re playing Monday, but they haven’t done it yet. They are putting so much pressure on this kid to do so much and he needs some help.”

TNT’s Cheryl Miller interviewed Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on Thursday

Bryant on what type of player he is: “I’m naturally a scorer by nature.  I’ve had to learn how to facilitate (the ball) and some of these things.  In this system, it’s a lot harder to do because it’s an equal opportunity offense.”

Bryant on the officiating in the playoffs: “If it was up to me, they would just go back to the rules the way they were back in the (19)80’s.  It’s becoming more difficult not only for players to play but for the officials to make those calls because it’s too subjective.  I think it would make their job a lot easier and our job a lot easier as players to make it a little more clear.”

Reggie Miller on the energy that Lakers reserve guard Shannon Brown brings to the team: “What I liked in Game #5 (Lakers/Nuggets) was Shannon Brown.  His minutes have gone down somewhat but his intensity and defense on Chauncey Billups really won that game for (the Lakers).  I like to see players like that come through in big situations.”

Smith on the difference between the Lakers and the Cavaliers: “(The Lakers) players are empowered when they have the ball.  I think the Cavaliers have to shoot when they get the ball.  The power doesn’t come with the score or decision making, the only decision you can make at that time is to take an offensive shot.  The difference is the Lakers empower their players and that’s why, from top to bottom, they are the best twelve players in basketball on that team.  Does that translate to winning (the WCF)?  Maybe not but they should win an NBA Championship.  They empower their players, they have all the elements, they have the best coach, they have youth and experience, and they have the best closer (Kobe Bryant).  There are no excuses for them not to win a championship.”

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One Response to “Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA Playoffs – Thursday, May 28, 2009: “Some of that stepping up has to come from the (Cleveland) coaching staff as well.””

  1. Lebron found a Robin to his Batman last night. Booby and West also stepped up and hit some perimeter shots, along with Z.

    This is what they need to take the championship.