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May 31, 2017

Tyronn Lue

Oakland, California: Practice Day

Q. Couple things, one is can you talk about your impressions of what Mike Brown has done in potentially awkward situations as an acting head coach in the Playoffs? And also, what's it mean for you guys to have J.R. Smith? You didn't have him in the two regular season matchups, but he played so well in your wins in the Final series last year.
COACH LUE: Just happy for Mike Brown. I've known him for a long time and been good friends even though he's older than I am, but just happy to see him have a chance and an opportunity to coach a great team.

And with that being said, it's tough for Steve. Wish him a speedy recovery because that's the most important thing. But I think with Mike Brown stepping in and doing what he's done has been unbelievable. Hostile situation, a lot of pressure, having to win and to step in and go undefeated in the Playoffs is great. It's great for him. And hopefully whatever happens with Coach Kerr's situation that this opens up the eyes to other people and other teams about Mike Brown and what a great job that he can do.

As far as J.R., it's just always great to have him back. He's a tough shot maker, defensively he's great for us, and then when he's making shots, we're a tough team to beat.

So like you said about J.R. last year, in The Finals, making those eight straight points in that third quarter to really help us get back in the game and some big momentum plays, so it's great to have him back.

Q. What do you think changed for you during the Playoffs in terms that you have evolved from a team that had some struggle at the end of the regular season into a 12-1 team that is going to be NBA Finals?
COACH LUE: I think for us our biggest jump was defensively. I think defensively really locked in and had a chance to put some defensive schemes in and take away what we wanted to take away from all these good teams. So I think that you got to give the guys credit. They really locked in and they understand and understood and followed the game plan tremendously.

So I think for us we're scoring the basketball well, shooting the basketball well, but the biggest jump for us I think has been defensively.

Q. What do you think it's going to take you to win Game 1 of this series?
COACH LUE: Well, we got to come in with a defensive mindset, and I think our best defense is going to be our offense. Saying that meaning we can't turn the basketball over, we have to take good shots. We have to have great floor balance because this team is dangerous in transition. They are the best in transition. They could beat you in a lot of different way, Durant dunks, Klay and Steph's three. We got to do a good job of just taking care of the basketball and playing good offense.

Q. You have a really deep bench with a lot of great 3-point shooters, three guys over 40 percent. Very productive. Can they play a major role in this series, or does it come down to the two groups of superstars and who wants it the most?
COACH LUE: I think everyone has to play well. You get to this point, I don't think you can just pick and choose one or two guys. I think everyone has to play well. With our shooters that we have on the bench shooting over 40 percent, if they're great, they have to respect those guys on the 3-point line, that opens up driving lanes for Kyrie and LeBron and Kevin to post up. So I think if they're shooting the basketball well, it definitely helps us out.

Q. Also the one other thing, you mentioned how key defense has been to elevating your play, but also when you look back at the blowout loss here to the Warriors, was that any sort of wake-up call to this team about how much they had to improve to be ready for this?
COACH LUE: Well, that was a bad game for us. They really kicked our butt. We didn't come in with the right mindset, I thought definitely, just overall, we just didn't come in with the right mindset. We beat them on Christmas Day, so they were waiting for us and they were trying to get some get-back. And they came out to prove a point, and they did.

So seeing that game, and guys understand that Game 1 tomorrow, if we're not ready to play, if our minds are not right, the same thing could happen. So I think that turning that page I think guys are locked in and focused now and they understand where we're at as a team, the way we have been playing in the Playoffs, and we understand it's a dangerous team we're playing across the room, so our guys will be ready.

Q. Throughout the post-season you've talked about how you use your own definition of success on defense and sometimes it goes beyond numbers. So playing against a team like Golden State with all their offensive weapons that you've talked about, what do you consider a successful defensive night?
COACH LUE: Well, with these guys, I think that they're going to score. We know that. And they have a lot of guys that can score the basketball. They're going to make some tough shots that most guys are not going to make. So we understand that. But my biggest thing is not beating ourselves, not turning the basketball over, not taking bad shots, defensively understanding what we're doing. So we know they're going to score the basketball. We got to take the easy baskets away from them.

Q. I'm going to take you back in 2001 to the first game of that Finals. Your defense on Iverson was a big part of why that game was close at the end, and so I'm just wondering what are your recollections of that game in particular and when he stepped over you, what was your reaction to that? It became a big deal elsewhere. Was it to you?
COACH LUE: It wasn't a big deal to me at the time, but if I knew it was going to be a big deal across the media world, I would have picked him up when he stepped over me. But just defensively, just coming in, trying to change the dynamics of the game. Iverson, who was probably one of the most feared guys in the league back when I played when he was in the league, and he had 36 points I think midway through the third quarter, so he was on route to have 65, 70 points, so I just wanted to give us a lift defensively. And actually I didn't do the coverages that we were supposed to do. I got in trouble with Phil after the game, but he said, Whatever you were doing, continue to do it.

But I just tried to deny him the basketball, make it tough, be physical with him, and try taking away, not make it as easy as it was for him before I got in the game. So sometimes you got to go off sheet to change some things, and after that one game it was kind of effective. And Phil just said, Okay, whatever you was doing, you continue to do that and other guys will build around it. So we got to have that same mindset with this team we're playing tomorrow.

Q. Do you feel like that game or that series raised your profile?
COACH LUE: Oh, it definitely helped me out getting -- being a free agent after that year and having a chance to play against Allen Iverson who -- was crazy that he's only a couple years older than me, but I looked up to him as far as who he was as a player, his size, being six foot, his heart and tenacity. So as a young player, I looked up to him, and having a chance and an opportunity to play against him in the NBA Finals and doing a decent job defensively, it really helped my career out.

Q. When you coached Kyrie going into this series and assessed the matchup with Steph Curry, do you let him loose and say make this a one-on-one thing, relish the challenge, take him on both sides of the ball, or do you have to go away from that? Or just how do you kind of coach that matchup?
COACH LUE: Kyrie's an assassin. Offensively he can score in a lot of different ways. We want him to be aggressive. The way this team plays defense with all their switching and things like that, we have to take advantage of matchups. They're going to switch different guys on Kyrie, and he has to be great one-on-one. I feel good about that he can. So he has the green light to play offensively, be aggressive, making the right play. So the matchup's not about Kyrie and Steph, it's about the team, but when he has certain matchups, he definitely has to be aggressive.

Q. There's obviously third time -- this is first time that there have been two teams playing three years in a row, a lot of big names here, a lot of historical references to this. Do you ever take time to think about the special moment this is for you guys that have been a part of it, or is there too much going on for you to really think about kind of the uniqueness of this whole situation?
COACH LUE: No, it's definitely unique. It's nothing you can take for granted. Even though we have the best player in the world on our team, you still can't take it for granted. Health plays a part, a lot of things play a part in this. So going to the Finals three straight years, you have to enjoy it. You have to relish the moment.

But now that we are here, we have business to take care of. But it's something you can't take for granted. You have guys who have been in the league, Kyle Korver and Deron Williams and those guys who've never even been to the Finals. So it's something you can't take for granted and you got to take advantage of every opportunity.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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