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June 9, 2016

Kyrie Irving

Cleveland, Ohio: Practice Day

Q. Kyrie, can you talk about what Phil Handy has done to help your game, and also the speech he gave after Game 2?
KYRIE IRVING: Man, Coach handy has done an unbelievable job knowing the extent of our -- I don't think many people know the extent of our relationship, but I know you talked to him, Marc. Just in terms of meeting me as a 21-year-old, 22-year-old coming in and being with Kobe and understanding his relationship with him. He's kind of the one that introduced the relationship, the mentorship that I have with Kobe now, which is great. In terms of working out late nights and doing whatever it takes to win, learning how to lead, just understanding the nuances of the game and understanding what it takes to be a great player in this league. He's really kind of put down the foundation and steps. He's kind of like my dad in terms of in basketball when I'm away from my family. So he's just been really influential on my life.

The speech he gave after Game 2 just really hit home for all of us. It was a man-to-man speech that needed to be said, that we all understood in order to kind of will ourselves to understand that we still have a chance in this series. Golden State took care of home court, but that speech really hit home for all of us. I mean, he's just awesome in terms of what he brings to this team, for guy 1 all the way down to 15. Working guys out, making sure guys are professionals every single day.

Q. (No Microphone).
KYRIE IRVING: What about it?

Q. Like what you got from that dinner from Kobe?
KYRIE IRVING: It was a great dinner (smiling). It was a great dinner (laughing). You know, I think me and you could talk about that a little bit later, but it was a great dinner. It was a great dinner.

Q. Throughout this Playoffs, not just with the Cavs but all the teams, it's been an inordinate amount of lopsided games, win 30, lose 30, back and forth. Do you have any idea, any theory on why it seems to be happening this year?
KYRIE IRVING: No, not really. A lot of great teams, lot of great plays being made, and sometimes it can -- I think that the amount of runs that happen through the course of the game have become a lot bigger than usual in terms of from my standpoint. But it could be rather than an 8-0 run and someone calling a timeout, it can go from like 8 to 17 in a matter of minutes, and that could be the game right there.

So I find out that we were in a big hole in Golden State, and then we come back home and they're in a big hole in the beginning of the first quarter. So it can be the tale of both where it can be a really close game or it could be a lopsided game. I'm not sure why so many, but I'd rather be on the winning side of those.

Q. I've been asking the other guys that have been up there this, so I'm going to ask you: You had signed an extension to stay with the Cavaliers before LeBron made his decision to come back here. I'm curious, had he not come back, where do you think this team would be? Where do you think you would be individually?
KYRIE IRVING: I don't know. To be honest, don't take this the wrong way, I really don't care because this is everything that I've dreamed of. So whatever that alternate journey was, I don't even want to think about where that would be. But I'm glad that we have the management, we have the ownership, that belief in our GM, and he put together a great team that has done great things over this last year and a half, and our work still isn't finished, but I'm happy about where I am right now.

Q. What sort of conscious adjustments have you made in how you play or how you lead with LeBron around?
KYRIE IRVING: It's been a learning experience. It's been a constant adjustment every single day being around a great player like that. But I've enjoyed every single moment, the good, the bad, the ups and downs. Everything necessarily won't be perfect, which I had to understand shall and as a maturing young player, young man, I had to really just remove myself emotionally and realize that the journey isn't going to be easy in order to be a champion in this league, a great player or anything. And when you have the chance to learn from someone like that and you have a group of guys in our locker room like we do with veteran leadership, it makes my job a lot easier and a lot more fun to be a part of.

So I'm happy about the team that we're part of and the teams that I've been part of. But being around him every single day has been great for my career.

Q. Even though you're still down, obviously in the series, how much confidence is your locker room getting from the job that you guys personally and collectively have done on Steph defensively?
KYRIE IRVING: It's just taken a lot of team awareness, understanding certain spots on the floor. But the impact that Klay and Steph can have on a game, we want to limit that, and we also want to limit that second unit coming in as well. They do a great job. I mean, that's why they're champions. It's a full-team effort. And we know it takes guy 1 all the way to 15 in order to beat those guys.

So I think we have a better understanding of that and protecting home court is where we are right now and we understand that.

Q. I was also going to ask about Stephen Curry. It seems like he's having trouble getting the separation he needs to get that shot off offensively. What are you sensing from him? You've played against him plenty. What are you seeing from him in terms of his lateral quickness? Does he seem to be on top of his game to you?
KYRIE IRVING: I think that he's picking and choosing his spots, but I think we've all seen it. I think even yesterday there were still moments in the game where he's still scoring in bunches and he has that ability. So me as a defender, I really just try to crowd his airspace, and I know my teammates are well aware of when he's moving around the floor. But it's my job as a point guard to really just stay on his body as much as possible and make him feel uncomfortable. And that's what I just tried to do.

Q. Without being disrespectful, I just want to know your opinion why you guys were so good last night without Kevin on court? And if it was up to you for Game 4, would you start him or would you call him from the bench?
KYRIE IRVING: That's not my job. That's Coach Lue's job. If it were up to me, I would have liked Kevin to play in Game 3.

Q. And for the question why you guys were so good without him last night? What did you do different to perform the way you performed even without him in the lineup, in your own words?
KYRIE IRVING: You know, especially when a great player like that isn't playing, we understand that guys need to step in and play a huge role and play at a higher level, and I think RJ understood that. When he came into the game, he knew his spots. He knew where he had to be. You necessarily can't replace Kev, but RJ just came in and gave us a great lift, as well as our guys off the bench. So hopefully we can continue that in Game 4.

Q. Staying on Kevin, you had that moment with Dellavedova last year in Game 6 in Chicago where you guys hugged and it was like Delly's saying, "I'm going to take care of you." Ty told us before Game 3 you and LeBron both went up to Kevin and were like, "We've got you." What was that moment like and how do you think it may have helped Kevin's spirits?
KYRIE IRVING: Well, I know he definitely wanted to play for sure. Looking in his eyes, knowing in his heart, being at The Finals is what we've both dreamt of. Knowing the magnitude of the game and knowing the challenges that we face going into Game 3, we needed a full team effort, and he was there in spirit, and we just knew that we had to take care of business for him, and we did that. And going out and doing what we did in Game 3 was definitely a valiant effort for him, and we dedicated that game to him.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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