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May 22, 2015

LeBron James

Iman Shumpert


Cleveland Cavaliers - 94
Atlanta Hawks - 82

Q.  Shump, so many of the plays that were big in this game were three‑point baskets assisted by LeBron.  When you receive a pass, a cross‑court pass from him, talk about the precision and why the delivery is so important in the success of the shot and his ability to make a pass from a difficult angle and difficult direction.
IMAN SHUMPERT:  Well, a lot of the time you see‑‑ you find yourself open, you find guys cheating, and you only got to tell this guy one time that somebody's sinking in a little too much, and he'll find you with that pass, like I said.  Him snapping the ball at you, there's energy in that ball when you get it.  You've just got to knock them down because you know, if he keeps driving it, he causes everybody to come in there and make all that traffic.  Then just get your feet set and knock it down.

Q.  LeBron, what goes into those kinds of passes and how difficult are they, and how have you perfected that over the course of time?
LeBRON JAMES:  I've just seen every coverage that defenses can offer me, and I always try to be a triple threat on the floor, being able to score, to rebound, to pass, whatever the case may be, however the game presents itself.  Just get my confidence‑‑ I give my teammates the utmost confidence that when I throw them the ball, to shoot with confidence.  I just try to put it exactly where they need it to be, where all they've got to do is catch and shoot or catch and drive and make things happen.
So it's something I learned when I was a youngster, understanding how important a pass is and how important it is giving your teammates confidence.  When you have guys like the guy next to me and Delly and J.R. and the rest of the guys on down the line, I'm able to do what I love to do best.

Q.  LeBron, you guys collected more than a quarter of your shots today via offensive rebound.  How valuable was that for building the lead?
LeBRON JAMES:  Well, for us, offensive rebounding is part of our game.  Three‑point shooting is a part of our game as well.  We get 30 looks at the three‑point line, and we had 11 offensive rebounds that converted into 13 second‑chance points.  That's all a part of our game, it's part of our DNA.  When we do that, we're very successful.

Q.  Atlanta was collapsing early on your drives to the basket and then we saw later in the game an uptick of you driving and then dishing out.  Was that an adjustment made based off how they were collapsing on defense?
LeBRON JAMES:  I'm able to make adjustments throughout the game, just knowing how the defense read and react.  Obviously, when you've got guys like here, who shot the ball extremely well tonight, the defense starts to go further and further away from the paint, and I'm able to see creases.  When they react to me, I'm going to find my guys.  I'm going to know exactly where they're going to be every single time I drive.  That's just a repetition we have through our practices and watching the film and knowing where your guys are going to be, and they have outlets, and they make themselves presentable, and I just try to put the ball right where it needs to be.
I'm able to gauge the game and watch the game and able to replay it back in my mind and understand what I can do to help us win.

Q.  LeBron, I guess it's sort of along those lines, but if you go back to after Game 1 of the Chicago series, it was your first game without Kevin, and you said with less offense on the floor you had kind of decided you would need to shoot more and play a certain way.  When you come in tonight and Kyrie's not out there either and you have this game that you had with 11 assists and dishing it all over the place, just what made you switch again to playing, I guess, more of the point forward, distributor?
LeBRON JAMES:  That's how the game presented itself.  When I was attacking, I was seeing guys open.  When they were bringing two to me, I was seeing guys open.  Like I said, I have the most confidence, the most confidence in my teammates to make shots and make plays.
For me, that's my job is to put energy behind that ball when I'm finding them.  All they need to do is catch and shoot or catch and drive or make a play, and the game presented that tonight.  I was able to be aggressive at times getting to the rim, and then there was times where they brought two and three guys towards me, and I was able to find my guys, and they knocked them down.

Q.  Earlier in the season when you passed Pippen for the all‑time assists by a forward.  You told us the assist is your favorite play in basketball.  I wonder if you could elaborate on why that is and the feeling you get when you help these guys score.
LeBRON JAMES:  Why that is, for me, more than scoring, you always get the excitement of two guys being able to benefit from a pass.  If I score the ball, if I'm in an iso situation where I score the ball, it's just me, and I've always been accustomed to team basketball.  When I'm able to put pressure on the defense and then make a pass to a teammate and he's able to knock it down, I've always got the excitement of that more than anything.
But I have a gift, and that's why I'm able to keep defenses off guard because, you know, they say, okay, we're going to make him score or make him pass.  They really can't make me do what I don't want to do.  I go out, and I play the game the right way.  And whatever that moment, that possession presents itself, I try to do what's best for our team at that very moment.

Q.  LeBron, two nights ago, you said you had the No. 1 defense in the postseason.  It's hard pressed to find too many stretches of the year where you guys were a top ten defense.  Why now?  What's going on that has made you guys so good in the playoffs?
LeBRON JAMES:  We've gotten smarter.  We've ramped up our communication to a level that, at times throughout the season, I didn't know we could get to, and we're flying around, and we're just helping one another in time of need.
It starts with this guy, first of all.  Look at those all‑defensive teams, and obviously he has a small window with us, but he will be on the all‑defensive team in this league very soon.  It starts with him, his approach.  I love the defensive side.  You have a guy like Dellavedova, who he takes a challenge and Double‑T protecting the rim.  Mozzy as well in the starting lineup tonight.  And everyone else, everyone takes it seriously.
We understand that ultimately, if we want to win long term, we have to defend.  It's going to give us the best possible chance to win because the ball don't go through the rim all the time, and you have to be able to get stops.  We've been able to do that thus far in our 4, 10, 12 games in the postseason.

Q.  What are you all doing at halftime?  You come out in the third quarter the last two games and shut them down.  What adjustments and what have you all seen in your game plan?
LeBRON JAMES:  It's a total 360 from our last series.  We were terrible in the third quarter versus the Bulls.  We understood, if we want to be really good, we have to come out with a little bit more sense of urgency.  We have to play more pedal to the metal in the third quarter.
Defensively, we've been locked in.  When the ball is entered, either if it's their possession or it's our possession, we've just been very, very in tune with the game plan, and that's allowed us to get some leads in the third quarter and push the game out of reach.

Q.  Shump, so many people know you as a defender, but as J.R. said yesterday, your biggest asset, he thinks, is being a two‑way player.  So kind of a two‑part question:  Game 1, you said you couldn't even throw it into the ocean.  What was the difference?  And come this time of season, how much do you really fuel off of your defense to get you going on both ends?
IMAN SHUMPERT:  I try and approach each game the same way.  With this team, we've got a lot of guys that can score the ball.  So the easiest way to get myself going is by taking the best player on the other team or the most aggressive scorer on the other team out of the game.  When I do that and my guys get going or we get steals and long rebounds and get out in transition, it makes things easier.  The easier things become on the other end, the more things open up, the more I can get my offensive game going.
So what I try and do is just keep my defensive pressure up, and I know that on the other end, guys keep me aggressive, and I know I can pick my spots.

Q.  LeBron, both of you guys talked about what you've done defensively.  They've talked a lot about how they haven't played Hawks basketball.  They've played more iso than they typically play.  How much do you think what you guys have done, in terms of stopping their initial actions, has had to do with forcing them to play that way?
LeBRON JAMES:  (Laughing).  How do I want to answer this question?  We're the No.1 defensive team in the postseason for a reason.  Obviously, it's a great offensive team that we're playing against.  You can't stop a great offensive team.  You just try to make it tough on them.  That's all we're trying to do.  We're just trying to make it tough on them every night‑‑ contest all their jump shots, be in tune with the game plan, keep a body on a guy like Korver, who can break open a game by himself.
And that's all.  That's all we can do.  They're going to make shots, which they did tonight.  They still made some shots.  There were some possessions where we thought we could have been a little bit more in tune, but we just try to make it tough on them.  That's all we can ask, and our coaching staff gives us the game plan, and it's up to us to go out and execute it, and that's what we've been doing so far in these first two games.

Q.  LeBron, do you ever think about just some of the guys that these last couple of games, you always, when you come up to the podium, you've got different guys joining you every time.  What does that say about your team?
LeBRON JAMES:  It's next man up.  Guys are just taking the challenge.  It means everything to me to be able to share this podium with multiple teammates.  On every given night, Delly and Shump and J.R. and Ky and Tristan.  It could be James Jones next.  It could be anybody.
It means a lot.  It means that, first of all, what they do, they do it very well.  I got teammates that they don't try to outdo what they can do.  They do what they do at a high level, and for me, I just try to lead them.  Lead them the best way I can, and they go out and work for me, and I try to do the same for them.

Q.  LeBron, how important was it in the third quarter to keep the pedal down, build that lead up, and maybe not just for this game, but for momentum purposes going forward?
LeBRON JAMES:  Well, we learned from Game 1.  In Game 1 we had a big lead, and we started to play the clock, and that was my fault.  I took that straight to the head.  I knew, if I got that opportunity again, I wouldn't let that happen again.
So we happen to have the same thing happen today, and we just kept our foot on the gas.  We had early shots in the shot clock, we took them.  If not, we executed, and we were able to continue our roll and continue to defend as well.  That was very important.

Q.  Iman, in what ways has your game improved since you joined the Cavs?  Is LeBron responsible for any of that?
IMAN SHUMPERT:  Improve, I think each and every day you just come to practice, and you try and improve yourself all around with your game.  But the biggest thing that my teammates here have done for me is they simplify my job.  A lot of times, I found myself indecisive, and here they just try and simplify things for me.  They say sometimes I just want to do so much.
Just keep it simple.  You get a shot, knock it down.  A guy close out on you, make a play, get to the rim, but don't try and do too much.  Don't try and play outside yourself.  Don't try and show them your whole game.  Just simplify the game.  The more I simplify my game, the better I become.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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