The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune tracked down Flip Saunders for his NBA Finals prediction, in what I believe are his first public comments since the Pistons lost Game 6 last Friday:
"In games that Miami has lost, Shaq has gotten in foul trouble," the former Timberwolves coach said. "If Shaq can stay out of foul trouble and he's able to play, then I think they might be tough to beat. Dallas does have home court [advantage].
Was anyone else not surprised to see him hedge at the last second? Sigh. Saunders also went on to address his situation with the Pistons.
Joe Dumars, Pistons president of basketball operations, made it clear that Saunders will be back for his second year of a four-year contract. The Pistons finished with the best regular-season record in the league.
"Yeah, it's like Joe said. We won 64 games and we played bad for two weeks," Saunders said. "We did still get to the conference finals. We played against a team, that I said from Day 1, I mean a lot of people were picking Miami to win this thing even before the season started.
"So it's not like they weren't supposed to be good. Shaquille is still the most dominating player in the game, and Wade right now has become the most dynamic player in the game. So they've got two guys that are first-team and second-team all-NBA. We had an opportunity, and we let an opportunity slip.
"We gotta do some things. Every year you got to do things to get better. We'll get better. You know, get our bench better, develop our bench more. We'll be ready and make another run at it."
I'm excited, because he's making this sound pretty easy. I'm just curious when exactly it was during the past week he had the moment of insight, because he certainly didn't think it was worth pursuing all year long.
Shaq's play will decide NBA title [Star-Tribune]