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May 19, 2017

Brad Stevens

Boston, Massachusetts: Pregame

Q. Brad, any lineup changes, and what are they?
BRAD STEVENS: Gerald Green for Amir [Johnson].

Q. And why are you doing that?
BRAD STEVENS: Similar to some of the thought processes we went through in the Chicago series.

Q. Can we ask you about matchups? No, right?
BRAD STEVENS: You can ask whatever you want. Are there rules?

Q. I don't know, I know you're not going to say it so I don't need to ask it.
BRAD STEVENS: But I can say no comment or whatever.

Q. Who's starting on LeBron?
BRAD STEVENS: Yeah, we're going to have to guard him as a team. That's better than no comment.

Q. Coach, when it comes to Gerald, he's been in situations where he's started, played a lot of minutes, to not played at all. How do you think he's going to respond?
BRAD STEVENS: Yeah, I think that's a really unique to be able to respond to that. You know, we're asking a lot of our guys to -- like a guy like Amir to start four games, not start, and be flexible in that regard. But those guys, Jonas [Jerebko], who hasn't played as much in the last couple of games but played such a big part for us all year, like it says a lot about who they are that they're able to, A, embrace that and be great teammates through it, and B, be ready when called upon. And Gerald specifically has been ready when called upon all year in a unique year, right, for him. Didn't hardly -- he got hurt in training camp, didn't hardly play at all until Christmas, played in the Christmas Day game, and then played a lot while Avery [Bradley] was out but didn't play a lot in March. But he's always been ready, and he always stays ready.

Q. Yesterday you were talking about the second half stretch about 10 minutes bridging the third and fourth quarters. What did you take from that?
BRAD STEVENS: Well, I don't know how much of it was -- sometimes in a 20- to 25-point game, you're playing so free and they're playing with really everything to lose that it's not a great or a true evaluator of what you can do moving forward. But I did think we competed at a better level. I thought we did some things that we'll continue to try to do tonight at a better level. But ultimately, it's going to come down to we've got to be a lot better defensively, and there's no easy answer, right; when LeBron has the ball, we've got to be able to make it as tough as possible individually but show appropriate help and get to the shooters. So there's a lot that goes on there.

And then offensively, obviously I think we have to make -- we have to take advantage of our strengths, play to those, and we're trying to put as many shooters on the floor as possible and hopefully knock a few of those down.

Q. Back to the Amir-Gerald thing for a moment. When you go smaller against that team, they're so good up front, especially on the offensive glass, how do you combat that when you do go smaller?
BRAD STEVENS: I mean, there's things that when you go small that are not advantages and things that you've got to be able to soar with that are strengths. You know, obviously when you're small, your guards have to do a great job. If they end up in a rotation on [Tristan] Thompson or [Kevin] Love specifically of blocking out and everybody has got to pursue the ball. It's like we said in the Chicago series, we're not making this move expecting to win the glass by 15. If we can manage it and be solid in that regard and make it as tough as possible and not turn it over on the other end and get good shots and knock them down, then that's your way of managing it.

Q. The message over the last two days, how much of it was you've got to play hard, you have to compete right from the jump, and how much of it was strategy-wise we need to do X, Y and Z?
BRAD STEVENS: I mean, I think that the first part you said is a non-negotiable. It's May [19th] or whatever, you're in your third playoff series, you're all the way through the regular season. You know that there's a level of compete you have to be at. But I think that from a strategy standpoint, we'll spend a little bit of time in film watching some of the things that we can do better from a transition defense or a block-out or the effort type stuff. But we spend most of the time saying, hey, listen, we know what we need to do in that regard, let's focus on what we need to do better from a strategy standpoint, if there's any tweaks to make, make them and move forward. Our guys are great, I mean great, about responding. You know that. I mean, they're pretty unique in that regard, I think.

Q. The Cavs made a pretty strong emphasis to stunt the role man in Game 1. From your perspective, what challenges does that present, and how can you counteract that?
BRAD STEVENS: That's what they've done the whole playoff run. I mean, they're blitzing. That's what blitzing teams do. They bring the bottom guy over. If you're a hard show or a blitzing team, that's the way you rotate. You just have to be great about getting the ball out of the blitz quickly, and then you've got to be great about flashing into the open spots and making the next right play. We've been pretty good at that this year, and I thought we did a pretty good job at times of handling it the other day. Hopefully not as good as we will be, but even looking back on it, I felt good about a lot of the shots we got. We didn't shoot it well, but I felt pretty good about the shots we got.

Q. Jaylen [Brown] has been playing really well lately. Is part of the impetus to start Gerald that you like Jaylen coming in in the first quarter?
BRAD STEVENS: Yeah, and whoever starts between Amir and Gerald hasn't played as much as some of our bench guys.

Q. You were highly complimentary of the Cavs the last couple days. In the previous round Kyle Lowry was saying no one has closed the gap on LeBron. Do you have to guard against a defeatist mentality entering into a series like this against a team like that with the weapons that they've got?
BRAD STEVENS: Well, I think the thing is everybody in the world knows that they're good. We kind of go through the typical season progression of how good they are and then in March and April we've got to answer all the questions about what's wrong with Cleveland, and it's like, oh, they're going to be fine, trust us, and then now they're right who they are. I think the biggest thing is that -- and just being in our locker room, our guys have kind of been -- we've been built in a way of having a chip on your shoulder, competing, being excited about the challenge. I think that you should look at this if you're a competitor. You're going out there to do everything you can to win that next possession, and hopefully those add up to win the game, and there should be no more fun challenge if you're a basketball player than playing against the best. That should be as good as it gets. That's the way I look at it at least.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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