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June 11, 2017

Kyrie Irving

Oakland, California: Practice Day

Q. LeBron noted after Game 4 sort of how much success that you've had in elimination games. Why do you think you're so well suited for those games, and do you take any kind of different approach into a game like that?
KYRIE IRVING: Well, it's a time to definitely show everything that you're made of in those moments. You never want to be in those moments of elimination games, but when you are, you want to be as prepared as possible. And regardless of any situation, I always feel like if I do a great job of giving confidence in my teammates and remaining calm in the situation, then we have a great chance of coming out on the successful side.

I definitely failed a few times. But, yeah, it definitely doesn't affect me going in, nor does it affect the mindset of going in and just leaving it all out there on the floor. Like I said in the previous postgames, there's no other option. So you bring out everything that you have in your arsenal and everything that you work hard for and then leave it all out there on the floor.

Q. Among the many things you did well in Game 4, it's kind of overlooked, you limited Steph Curry to 13 shots. Only made four. What's the team defensive concept that allowed you to hold him down like that, and what do you have to do to continue doing that?
KYRIE IRVING: Well, it was definitely a conscious effort on my end and our team's game plan to make sure that we limited Steph and Klay to just some tough shots. We know they're going to make a few shots throughout the game, but you just try to stay locked in as much as possible and prepare for them as best you can.

They're some special players, and they make some unbelievable plays. But you just have keep a body on them as much as possible and try to make their shots a little bit more difficult. And I think we did a good job of that in Game 4, so hopefully we can do that going forward.

Q. What did you feel like you did better in terms of at least keeping up with Steph, who is all over the place generally, so --
KYRIE IRVING: He does a great job of just affecting the game on both ends of the floor. So you just try to keep a body on him. But also understanding that he can get hot in a matter of a second, and so can Klay and so can K.D. So we just have to stay locked in to those guys, making sure that we limit our turnovers and limit our mistakes. It seems like déjà vu being back up here, talking about from 1 and 2, trying to limit our mistakes. But if we do that and we limit some of their easy baskets, we put ourselves in a great position.

Q. The last time you guys were here in an elimination game, you hit the three at the end of Game 7. How do you kind of summon the competitive confidence to take that shot when you have LeBron James on your team, and does that at all speak to the confidence and trust that he sort of developed in you over the time you played together?
KYRIE IRVING: Well, it definitely makes the decisions out there a lot easier when you have the trust of your teammates and your coaching staff. But that confidence has been echoed just throughout my whole persona. Everything that I carry my whole life, I've had that. Just those moments, whether it be a success or a failure, you still have to be able to live with those decisions.

So Game 3 we didn't come out with the win, and I had to go home and think about that shot that I took and the options that I could have made and things that I could have done in terms of getting us that win.

And then you have a unique position in Game 4, where you have a great team that could be celebrating on your home floor, but you just come out with that effort, that you just leave it all out there. As cliché as it sounds, that's what it really boils down to.

But that confidence, I always want to exude that in my teammates and have them understand that the magnitude of this moment's the only thing that matters. And if we succeed in doing that, then we put ourselves in a great place.

Q. You said after Game 2 that you were going to watch film and see where you could pick your spots against Klay. After watching that film, in between Game 3, what didn't you like about what you did in the first two games, and how has that helped you in the last two?
KYRIE IRVING: Well, naturally, nerves going, a lot of things coming into play Game 1 and 2, a lot of opportunities that I felt like I didn't take advantage of, because if it wasn't there after that split second, then I felt like it wasn't there anymore.

And they did a great job of corralling me into certain positions that I felt uncomfortable. You have to give credit when credit is due. Klay is an incredible defender. And as much as he is studying me, I'm studying him.

So when you want to raise that level of competition and you want to be any way, shape, or form of successful in going against a great defender or a great team, then you have to look at some things that you can do differently.

I started doing some things differently, getting off the ball a little bit and sacrificing myself for my teammates. So whether that be screening or doing anything possible, getting a rebound and starting the break, just really being aggressive in everything that I was doing, whether the ball was in my hands or not, I think that was the biggest difference.

Q. Following up on that, Steve Kerr said that Klay is like a yellow lab chasing a ball, the way he chases you around the court. And what I'm wondering is, do you feel that in some ways that your matchup has been key? Because this series could easily be even the way Game 3 went. Do you feel the way you've turned it up the past two games has been key to kind of the comeback?
KYRIE IRVING: Well, yeah, I mean, the importance of everyone playing their role and specifically me taking the conscious effort on my end to make sure that I do everything possible and limit my mistakes and make our team better.

He's done an unbelievable job of staying on my body and chasing me over every single screen. I mean, there's not one possession where I come down where I'm not getting hit or I'm not hitting somebody, and that's just the physicality of The Finals. And I relish that challenge of becoming better and demanding more out of myself. I enjoy that.

So going forward, I know that there's even more challenges and more adversity that we'll face, but the only thing that matters is just our preparation and our focus level and our confidence in things that we can control. Then from that point on, then it's fair game.

Q. Ty was talking about how he thought you guys were maybe a little too nice the first two games?

Q. He was saying you guys might have been a little too nice the first two games. He liked the physicality you brought in Game 4. Did you sense that too?
KYRIE IRVING: Like I said, I think that a lot of nerves -- I'll say it again, but the team that settled in the quickest was going to be successful the quickest as well. They settled in extremely fast. They adapted to the physicality. They brought the intensity. They had all the focus.

And finally in Game 4 we broke down a little bit of the door, a little bit of getting that monkey off our back of having the pressure just solely be on us.

Being down 3-1, we understand that it's a predicament that we put ourselves in. But coming out in Game 5, we feel like if we come to play and we make sure that we focus on our game plan and we bring the physicality and we bring it to them, then we'll put ourselves in a great position.

Q. This is a living, breathing series, and so I'm wondering how much change do you expect to see from their defense on you in Game 5?
KYRIE IRVING: Part of these Finals that makes it special is preparing for the unexpected. My job is to continue to be aggressive, continue to get my teammates involved, continue to do the things on both ends of the floor and try to dominate possession by possession and take care of the basketball. Then, I mean, honestly, we'll see in Game 5, but I'll definitely be preparing for the unexpected as much as I can.

Q. If a team is committed to getting the ball out of your hands, and if they're trapping or blitzing, what's key to you managing that when they're trying to block out the sun and you're trying to find a way to move that ball?
KYRIE IRVING: By understanding how complex basketball is, but also you have to enjoy the simplicity of it, too. There's a way to dominate the game without having the ball constantly in your hands, and that was a role that I had to come to enjoy as well. Because when have you a special, great player, a Hall of Famer on your team with you every single day and you're a point guard and you want the ball in your hands and you want to make plays, then you have to figure out other ways to be effective in the game.

And I think that in Game 1 and 2, as well as part of 3, just definitely got caught up in trying to find that rhythm with the basketball in my hands. But as long as collectively as a group that everyone feels good, then my opportunities will come on breakdowns from their defense and offensively and things that we can be sharper at. I have to be implementing in those opportunities, and the way to do that is just being an open screener, being just a willing sacrificer, and the opportunities will come. And when those opportunities come, then you kill it.

Q. You were particularly vocal in Game 4. Are you a better player, more motivated, when you're talking, if it's to someone else or to yourself? How does that go when you are constantly talking?
KYRIE IRVING: Well, the first thing with talking and communicating is -- and I think back to Game 1 and 2 or any game that I played in, when the tempo is going really fast and you're running up and down, you have to be in a very special type of shape in order to communicate with your teammates and play at that high tempo. I think Game 1 and 2 we had been off for so long, getting up and down that floor with those guys, man, I was -- a few times where you're trying to call out a play, you're just trying to catch your breath. And defensively they're making you pay every single time down.

So when you're able to focus in for possession by possession and still have your wind and be able to vocally tell everyone what spot they need to be in because you've prepared, it's a difficult task, but once you get into that, then the game starts to become just more fluent. So you're able to communicate to your teammates, communicate yourself, communicate to your coaching staff, able to see the floor a lot better.

Q. When you're hitting baskets, there's a couple baskets you were just talking, what are you saying to yourself? Does that motivate you?
KYRIE IRVING: Just keeping myself within the game. Off the court don't really say too much, but on the court get to be as vocal as possible, get to throw yourself into the emotional pull that the Finals or any big game will pull out of you. You just have to let that come out and just breathe from that and live in that moment.

Q. K.D.'s averaging over 30 points a game this series and playing great down the stretch in the fourth quarter. What are you going to try and do tomorrow in order to stop him?
KYRIE IRVING: He's an incredible player. We understand the impact that he's had on this series. So our job going forward it just to have antennas up every time he gets the basketball, as well as respecting the rest of the guys on their team. I mean, that's what makes them an incredible, incredible powerhouse, is how they utilize each other and how unselfish they are. So we just have to keep the intensity up and our focus, and hopefully we can come out with a win.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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