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May 18, 2017

Brad Stevens

Boston, Massachusetts: Practice Day

Q. Your reaction to Isaiah being All-NBA Second Team?
BRAD STEVENS: Yeah, just found that out as I was walking over here. That's a tremendous accomplishment for him, and certainly well-deserved.

Q. What was it like watching the film of last night's game today?
BRAD STEVENS: I think any time you watch the film and you get beat, you find things that are encouraging that maybe you didn't feel as good about in the moment, and then there's a reason you got beat the way you did. Learned quite a bit, and move on to tomorrow night.

Q. What was the reason you got beat the way you did?
BRAD STEVENS: I think there was more than one. I've said this before, you're not out there in the playoffs playing five-on-zero. There's another team out there, too, and the main we got beat that way was because of the Cavs. They did a lot of things that put us in bad positions. We need to just do better.

Q. With the mentality LeBron showed in attacking the hoop harder than he did anytime against you in the regular season, does that change the way you do things? Do you have to take up space so he doesn't get a running start?
BRAD STEVENS: I think once you take up space and he beats you by a step, he sprays it to a wide-open shooter. I think there are a lot of things that I think sound good in theory. I just think we have to do our best to mix it up appropriately without overdoing it, and make sure that we try our best to keep him in front.

Obviously, if we want to keep him in front, we don't want him shooting layups -- like probably you're thinking Jae [Crowder] with the downhill drives. We had a few that I thought he made great shots where we actually guarded him pretty well. But at the end of the day, that's all easier said and done. We just have to make it as difficult as possible as a group.

Q. Do you see anything from the Cavaliers that you can exploit, or is it really about --
BRAD STEVENS: Every time you play in a basketball game, you have a margin for error. Against team of this caliber, which there aren't very many, that goes down. So you have to be great possession to possession. We have to do what we do better than we did it last night, and then there are some things that we think from a tactical standpoint that we can use at certain times that we never got to use really. But at the end of the day, it still comes down to how hard you play, if you're able to keep guys in front, if you're able to play with appropriate force, all those things. They did a better job of that than us.

Q. Offensively would you take the same looks?
BRAD STEVENS: Yeah, any time you go through a game like that, I think that you maybe go back and over-scrutinize that. But I felt pretty good about it. We have a group of people that look at not what we shoot on a given night but what we'd be expected to shoot. We got as good a looks as we have at any other time in the playoffs, according to that. But I think that we need to play better offense. I think that that starts with getting it out quickly and getting the ball moved against the blitz.

I thought we did a better job in the third and fourth quarters. When you're in a game like that where it's going to be very unlikely that you come back to win, you want to take some positive things with you from the end of the game.

Q. Does Jonas [Jerebko] have a role?
BRAD STEVENS: He could in this series, yeah, for sure. I think when you start looking at you have to be quick, you have to be versatile, the shooting helps, all that stuff, and he's obviously been a huge part of our team the last couple of years. In the Washington series, his opportunity wasn't there as much. But I told him last night, there's a good chance that he'll be a big part of this.

Q. Coming up with a game plan to stop Cleveland and beat Cleveland, where does that rank among the challenges you've had in your coaching career?
BRAD STEVENS: I'm focused on trying to play well. You have to realize that they're outstanding. They put you in a bad matchup almost every time down the floor, and they're great at it. LeBron is great at finding the matchup he wants. He's great at recognizing when Love has the matchup that they want. He's great at recognizing when Irving or bringing a screener up that they want to bring up. That's what makes it really difficult. You're always accounting for all those shooters on the floor, and yet there is a real ability of that team to pick you apart in isolation.

Q. Has this been your greatest coaching challenge?
BRAD STEVENS: I think every day is a great challenge. They're all unique, but certainly this is one of the best teams that I've ever coached against. There's no question about it.

Q. There are not too many players in the league that have that uh-oh factor when they get the ball. LeBron has that. How do you tell your guys not to get discouraged when even though they might break even or get the best of him, he still might hit the shot?
BRAD STEVENS: Yeah, great players in this league -- and LeBron is the best -- make really tough plays that you have to tip your hat and move on. We said that as we went through both series, with [Jimmy] Butler and the guards with Washington. There are going to be moments where you play great defense and they make you pay. LeBron is not the only one on this team that does that; Love is tremendous, Irving is tremendous at that.

Ultimately, you've got to do as well as you can. But when you review the tape on those things, those don't feel like the things that get you. Things that get you are the rebounds and the run-outs and all those other things because your margin of error is smaller against a team of this caliber.

Q. Are you really not going to take any credit for Isaiah's accomplishment? He did give you some credit.
BRAD STEVENS: I thought [Danny Ainge's] phone call was great two years ago because it was like 2:58 or a 3:00 deadline or whatever it was, 1:58 or a 2:00 deadline. At 1:50, he told me we weren't making any deals.

At 1:58, he said, hey, what about this, this and this. All of a sudden, we had two trades on the table in the matter of eight minutes. One of them was Isaiah, and we were all really excited because of his ability to get into the paint.

What we've all learned about Isaiah is all the different things that he can do. I think that it's so much at this level about finding the right guys for the right groups, and he fits perfect with our guys. They need what he does well. He needs what they do well. But he's put in a lot of work. He's as consistent and hard of a worker as I've ever been around.

Q. You guys played a few games trailing the series in the first round and faced elimination the second round. How does that recent history affect this series going forward for you and your young guys?
BRAD STEVENS: We don't play any different game to game as far as we don't look at it as a Game 7, a Game 2, up, down, whatever. We look at it as we're still playing and we have to play well tomorrow. And that's all we try to do. We don't get too caught up in what happened or what the future looks like. We've got to do our best to play well tomorrow. Our guys are really good about staying in that moment. I didn't think we played great last night, but I think Cleveland had more to do with that. We just have to play better.

Q. How much did you guys talk about getting into [Tristan] Thompson's body?
BRAD STEVENS: Yeah, I think you talk about that all the time, and that never stops. We actually had some tremendous block-outs, especially in the second half, especially by our guards. We just have to have a team commitment to that. It's easier said than done. Where do you start and where do you end with all the things you've got to do?

Q. Last night Tyronn said after the game that their main objective was to be physical with Isaiah and they were going to be willing to give up other things in order to be physical. When he's faced with that situation, how much of it is him dealing with it, how much of it is you guys as a coaching staff coming through with things, how much of it is a collaboration?
BRAD STEVENS: I think it's a collaboration. Isaiah has to be able to make the quick, right read. The coaching staff has to make sure people are in the right positions so we can take advantage of that. The players on the floor need to be able to read that blitz. They need to be able to put themselves in position to be the next catcher and then attack out of it. So it's everybody working together.

And again, I thought we were much better as the game went on. We've been much better as the other series have gone on. But rightfully so, he's going to draw a lot of attention. I mean, Second Team All-NBA, right? Those guys draw a lot of attention.

Q. They came out in attack mode last night. Do you think they'll even try to ramp it up --
BRAD STEVENS: Yeah, I thought it was very clear they were trying to get to the rim. That was kind of a don't-settle mindset. When Love set screens and we were late and had to switch, he went right to the post. When LeBron got it in isolation, no matter if he was being guarded by big or small, he tried to go right to the paint. So that was pretty clear. We've got to do a better job at the front of our defense of being active and help, and making sure that we're as good and solid as we can be on the ball.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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