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June 1, 2016

Kyrie Irving

Oakland, California: Practice Day

Q. Last year you said that the Cavs would have won the Championship if you were not injured, so this year do you think you have a better chance against the Warriors?
KYRIE IRVING: Well, coming into the postseason you actually want to have a great bill of health, and we were just unfortunate of not having that going into the full extent of postseason. Kevin goes down into the first round of the series, I go down Game 1 of The Finals.

So it just takes a lot of luck, which I understand. And as a professional, I understand that whatever happens, sometimes it's out of your control. But the Warriors did what they could. They won the Championship last year, and now we come in and now two evenly healthy teams, and No. 1 and No. 1 in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference respectively, and this is what it's about.

So I'm excited for the challenge and going out there and competing.

Q. Both teams are shooting well from three-point range, but that's obviously a strength for the Warriors, something that they live and die by. Do you see this being a three-point shootout throughout the series?
KYRIE IRVING: I just think that there will be a lot of great -- this is a series with a lot of great shooters in it that have the ability to make unbelievable shots beyond the three-point line or even in the two-oint area. But when you have a team like the Warriors where they have Klay who shoots unbelievably from the three-point line, then as well as us, myself and Swish [J.R. Smith], and Kevin and Channing and guys that just space out the floor and curb it well, you'll definitely see a lot of three-point attempts. A lot of long rebounds with a lot of fastbreaks as well. But both teams do an incredibly good job just screening for one another and getting each other open for what our strengths are.

I wouldn't call ourselves a three-point shooting team, but we have guys definitely capable of putting the streaks up of three-pointers.

Q. Have you allowed yourself to just think about the magnitude of these two teams, the star power, the history? And everybody's pretty much calling this -- has potential to be a classic. Have you thought about the magnitude, or is that something that you think about after the season?
KYRIE IRVING: No, I kind of leave that up to you guys. Just kind of print that moment for what -- for everyone, that's not in our locker room for what it is. For me, it's just being back into this moment, thinking about the journey, thinking about how long it's kind of been from last summer to getting hurt in Game 1 to now where we are now and being back up on this stage and having a clean bill of health, thank God.

We just see it for what it is. It's The Finals. It's top-level basketball. This is the highest level that you ever want to get to. Nothing is guaranteed at this point, so you just want to relish the moment and focus on what you can control and then go from there. That's all I'm really focused on. Doesn't really matter if it's an instant classic or whatever. Everyone's opinions about whoever wins this Finals, anybody can call it for what it is. Just want to be on the winning end.

Q. Kyrie, how closely did you watch or did you watch the Oklahoma City series closely? And if so, did you learn anything from that that you feel you could take into this series?
KYRIE IRVING: To be completely honest with you, I wish I could say I sat there and watched every game and just really tried to study as much as possible. But going home and thinking about what we had to accomplish ourselves to get back to this Finals was strenuous in itself. I wasn't really concerned about what was going on in the Western Conference. Not as much as probably anybody would think. I was so focused on getting back to preparing. We lost Game 3 and 4, and then everyone starts to think, what's going on with the Cavs? And we're dealing with a lot of pressure on ourselves, which is fine.

But I was just really focused on what we had to accomplish for ourselves. But definitely watching film now and studying over the last few days is definitely giving me a chance to slow down the film and break down what I can definitely learn from the match-up at the point guard role. Also offensive tactics that we can include in our offense, and defensively how we can attack them better.

Q. Besides film, did you watch the series like when it was happening, or did you just watch it on film?
KYRIE IRVING: I caught bits and pieces. Man, I was literally in bed at like 9:00 or 10:00 every single night. But I caught bits and pieces of it. I'd wake up in between and the game would still be on. Other than that I was finishing my night watching Family Guy. That was it.

Q. You and Curry were teammates in Spain, world champions. And at that time you came up as the MVP of the tournament. I'd like for you to talk a little bit about this matchup, if it will happen. I know it will happen sometimes, but I don't know if all the time. But I'd like for you to talk about this a little bit?
KYRIE IRVING: Just going against a great player like that is just something you look forward to. He's a two-time MVP, he solidified his spot among NBA great players. Actively playing. As a point guard that kind of relishes in those competitive matchups, you just look forward to something like that, and he's going to do what he does. And I'm going to continue to do what I do. This is the level of competitiveness that I've been looking for as a kid playing against the MVP and also the previous champions and getting back to this point. So looking forward to it.

Q. Your expectations, because probably, most probably, you two will be playing together again in Rio 2016. We hope to see you both there. Are you looking forward to that?
KYRIE IRVING: Well, as of right now we're not on the same team. So I'm not really thinking about the Olympics at this moment, but it would be great if we played together this summer.

Q. Have you got a chance to look back at Game 1 of last year's Finals? Have you ever gone back to that tape or that play with Klay? And also, throughout this last year, how much did doubt play a part in your emotions?
KYRIE IRVING: Doubt never crossed my mind ever, neither did fear or anything like that. I think what really scared me was the process of getting back, of learning how to walk again, learning how to do things again, and trying to be at the same level that I was last year.

I had a pretty decent year last year and then coming into The Finals, it wasn't what I really wanted it to be like. When you have a guy like Kevin go down and you're left on a platform with LeBron and you're expected to perform at a high level and you're not fully healthy and you can't give it all you got, that kind of keeps you up at night, which it did. Then getting hurt Game 1 of The Finals was probably like the cherry on top, where it just -- it all fell backwards for me, going back downhill and very, very fast.

I just had to get out of my own way. I had a lot of great mentors, a lot of great people around me in terms of supporting me back to get to this moment and preparing me for this. I've meditated on it, I've prayed on it for months and months and months, and I'm glad it's here. I'm glad I can say I'm finally up here balanced literally, physically and mentally. I'm just really, really happy to be in this moment and be on this stage again, now that we can attack it the way that I want to. And I know my teammates want to as well.

So I think I said it earlier in the year, just a Ferrari with no rear view mirrors, no looking back, no regrets, and this is what it's about.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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