PTRW #952 STEVE CLIFFORD

“To me, in the NBA, the challenge is that our players are often being tugged so many ways. A lot of times people are well meaning. It’s friends, it’s family. Sometimes it’s agents. It isn’t that they don’t mean well, but they’re looking at what’s best for the player – not always what’s best for the team. That’s where the conflict is. To me, the challenge is to develop the right kind of coach-player relationship so they know our intent is to get them better, and get the team better.

“Unless you’re there every day, watch every practice and go to every shootaround, there’s no way that you can have a true idea of what’s going on with a team. I’m in the NBA. Tom [Thibodeau] was here for two days, and we were talking about [the Bulls] last year. … Just things I wouldn’t have thought.

“I tell the players that: The guy who can help our players are our coaches. You see them every day. Unless you have the right kind of communication in this league, it will get sideways on you.”

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PTRW #951 SCOTT SKILES

“Not to take anything away from any other coaches, but at this level with how talented the guys are, if you are going to be a really good defensive team it takes a major commitment from the players in time, effort and staying with your schemes. Occasionally you will run across players who don’t want to do it (defensively) and then you have to hold them accountable. And honestly, there are (coaches) who don’t want to hold players accountable because they don’t want to get into that mess. It can get a little messy sometimes.

“But that’s why I’m excited for this (Magic) team on that (defensive) end of the floor. We have a bunch of willing guys who want to do the things we’re teaching them.”

“Some of it’s maybe (playing) a little harder, but there just needed to be that if you have a set scheme, whatever is going on on the other side of the floor, you four know what I’m supposed to be doing and you can react accordingly,’’

“You can’t have a weak link in that chain because the other team will find it. But with everybody moving and reacting together – I think we’ve made a lot of progress with that. Early on in camp, we’d have a couple of guys doing it right and one not there yet. We seem to – one through 14 now – we seem to be getting on the same page now.”

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PTRW #950 TYSON CHANDLER

From Jeff Hornacek:

“Tyson’s been the defensive anchor for all these teams that he’s played on. Won a championship. He knows how to play the game. He knows how to protect his teammates. How to talk to his teammates. Our biggest problem probably last year (defensively) is we didn’t have a lot of guys that talk. Tyson’ll be the director back there. He’ll tell our guys what defense we’re in, what the rotation is.”

PTRW #949 JAMA MAHLALELA

“It’s incredibly difficult. I think it’s harder than most people would think; to know that I’m going to go put in a serious amount of work and I may not get any kind of reward for that with playing time. But I’m going to keep doing it and keep doing it and keep doing it knowing that if I do get playing time I’m going to be ready for it. And that’s what being a professional athlete is. It may be not the fairest thing in the world but it is what being a professional athlete is all about.”

PTRW #947 MIKE MALONE

Denver’s Defensive Demands:

1-Take Away the Corner Three:

“That’s the highest percentage 3-point shot in the league, below the break, the easiest shot in the game. So when we try to make sure everything we do defensively in our rules and our philosophy, they understand that we don’t leave strongside shooters. If the ball is dribbled at you on the baseline, don’t get sucked in. Start inching out to take that shot away.”

2-Clog the Paint:

“The biggest thing is we want to protect the paint, first and foremost. If you get beat in the paint and those high-percentage shots around the rim, it could make for a long night, and that starts in transition.”

3-Defend Without Fouling:

4-No Gambling:

“I don’t mind steals, because if we can defend then run that’s great. But we’re not a team that’s going to get up and deny in the passing lanes. We’re more of a shrink-the-floor team, protect that paint. If we want to protect the paint, you can’t get up and deny everything because you’re going to open yourself up to back-door plays. So our mind-set is let them catch the ball, keep them in front of us and then contain the basketball, contest and rebound. Now, if we can get a steal within our defensive rules, I’m all for it.”

-Coach Finamore

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