Suns guard Mario Elie, one of our NBA.commentators for NBA Playoffs 2001, answered questions from fans on the off day before Game 4 against the Kings. The Suns are down in the series 2-1 in the Western Conference first round.
You guys did great on Sunday, but you kind of faded in the last half. What do you think will need to happen in Game 4?
We've just got to box out and play defense and just try to drive the ball a little bit more. We seem to be settling for jays a little bit. We saw that on the tape. They got 41 free throws to our 27. They were taking the ball to the basket. So I think we've got to do a little bit more of that.
Hey Rio! You've been on both ends, up in a series and down in a series. From the Kings' perspective, how tough is it to deliver that knock out blow once you've got a team on the edge of elimination?
Extremely tough. Extremely tough. That's always the toughest part of a playoff series, putting somebody out. That's a very dangerous animal. You know, I've been backed up in a corner and it's not a good place to be. You know, you've got to come out swinging. The previous teams I've been on, we've been in a lot of corners and we dug ourselves out. I'm hoping we can do that again. We've got the guys who can do it. We've just got to let it all hang out. If you don't leave everything on the floor on Wednesday, then we're going home. We've got to go out there and everybody's got to play 110 percent and leave it on the floor.
Being that you have so much playoff experience, are the guys all looking to you for advice right about now?
New York, NY
No, they are not looking for me. They know what time it is. What would I have to say? We just have to go out and play. If you lose, you go home. It's that simple. I'm no rocket scientist. We want to win, that's the bottom line. I've been talking to guys all year. I'm focusing on my game. I'm going to think about what I have to do to help my team win. Hopefully the rest of the guys will do the same thing and come out and let it all hang out. You've got all summer to rest. Tony (Delk) and I were talking about it when we were shooting free throws. We are not ready to go home. I know I'm not. I'm having too much fun. It's a great time of year. It's on TV every game. I want to play on TV for as long as I can. I may not get this opportunity next year. I may be a 12th man next year somewhere. I'm enjoying my time now while I've got it. I've got to enjoy my time to shine. Next year I may not get as many minutes as I am this year. I would like to continue to play. I feel good and hopefully our guys will feel the same.
You've played in a lot of big games. What was your biggest win during the postseason?
My biggest playoff victory was in Utah, being the 6th seed, them winning 62 games, us (Houston Rockets) being down 10 points with seven minutes left in the Game 5, on the road, elimination game. That's probably the biggest playoff game I've been associated with. We just came together. Clyde (Drexler) and "Dream" (Hakeem Olajuwon) got us together and said, "Hey, we've got to make a move now." And we did and it turned out to be the biggest win of that championship run. You know, Utah is a hostile place and being down seven with Karl Malone, (Jeff) Hornacek, (John) Stockton in their primes, us digging down deep and coming back to win that game. That's the one game I do remember.
Can you share your playoff war stories with your teammates to help get them prepared? Can you tell them how to handle that playoff pressure?
Old School Jimmy
You can't explain it. You have to go through it. We have a couple of our guys who have been through it. Myself, Rodney (Rogers) has been through it with Denver and Duds (Chris Dudley) has been through it in New York. You always have to believe. I feel like we can force a Game 5. The first 12 minutes, that's what you have to concentrate on right now going into the game. You can't worry about Game 5. You have to win Game 4 to get to Game 5.
Hi Mario! What is the attitude of the Suns heading into Game 4? What is everyone thinking about? We're all thinking about a big Suns win!
The Mulcaire Family
That's it. That's the bottom line. Win or it's Cancun, Tahiti, the Bahamas, golf clubs, you know, reevaluating what you're going to do for the summer. But I'm not ready to go home. I'm having too much fun. It's do or die. We've got to go out there and see what we're made of. I know I'm not ready and the rest of the guys are not ready to go home. You never know what's going to happen in a Game 5, where they're at home. That puts the pressure back on them. So we've just got to come out and try to get the job done on Wednesday and force Game 5.
After watching video of Game 3, what did you see that the Kings did to overcome that big lead you guys had?
Scot Pollard, man. That guy kicked our (butt) in the second quarter. I'm yelling out there on the court, "Get a body on this guy." This guy is attacking the ball like a Tasmanian devil. He had 10 points in the second quarter. That was the difference in the game. This guy kept the Sacramento Kings in the game with his hustle. He just wanted the rebound more. He's a big dude. He's a big dude. Rodney (Rogers) and Googs (Tom Gugliotta), I felt bad for them, they tried to put bodies on him. That was a very pivotal part of the game. He kept getting confidence. He was tipping balls, keeping balls alive and getting them second shots. That's what enabled them to get back into the game.
The Kings are a good team. They didn't win 55 games by fluke. They have talent. Peja (Stojakovic) can play, Doug (Christie) can play, Chris (Webber) is a great player, Vlade (Divac) can play, and J-Will (Jason Williams) can play. Then when the bench guy comes in and kicks your butt, that's even worse. You have to give them credit. That's what Scot Pollard does. He's a hard worker. He's a lunch pail guy. He came in that second quarter and did a lot of damage.
What's up Mario -- I've been a fan of yours since your days in Houston and I think you should be playing more out there. I want to know how you think you've been playing during this playoff series?
I think I've been playing well. I'm averaging double figures. My average is up from the regular season. I'm feeling confident. I'm feeling good about my game. I had a great first half (in Game 3) and didn't play too much the second half because Tony was playing well. That's the way the two guard goes on this team. We've got two two guards. I had a great first half, Tony had a great second half. I would've liked to have been out there, but when guys are playing well, you can't complain about that. All you can do is cheer.
Doug Christie sort of reminds me of you. He seems like an aggressive player on both ends and a fiery type of guy. What do you think of his game?
He's that tall guard that can play the one or the two. You know, he's been making J (Jason Kidd) work. He's physical and he's a great defender. He's long. He's 6-6 and he takes a lot of pressure off of Jason Williams. He can hit the big shot. He hit two big ones (in Game 3), so he's a very versatile player.