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May 23, 2018

Brad Stevens

Boston, Massachusetts: Gam Five

Celtics - 96, Cavaliers - 83.

Q. Can you talk about what Jayson Tatum brought to the team tonight?
BRAD STEVENS: Obviously we needed his scoring greatly. We had a lot of guys that struggled with their shot tonight, and he made some big plays. I think that he would be the first to tell you that he enjoys playing in these types of games and was looking forward to tonight after the two in Cleveland.

Q. What was the key to keeping Cleveland's supporting cast limited tonight, and did the [Aron] Baynes change sort of help that?
BRAD STEVENS: Well, first of all, they had 33 points off their bench. So we've got to be better off the bench. [Jordan] Clarkson went and hit those threes and kind of kept them hanging around there after the scrum on the other side of the floor. But Baynes is a really good defender. He helps in a ton of different ways. I thought he did a good job getting to the ball off the glass and getting tip-ins. The purpose for that change was we're going to have to play big some. We wanted to play big a little bit more. But it was more to get two wings off the bench so that we could then rotate our wings with basically quick breaks around the timeouts if we could, because we knew we were going to play those guys a lot of minutes tonight.

Q. You talked about Jayson already, but can you speak to the impact he made in all facets of the game, particularly on the defensive end and what you kind of saw from him there?
BRAD STEVENS: I just thought he had a really good game. Again, these guys are anxious to play. Everybody is anxious after you get beat. But I think Jayson was especially anxious after Game 4.

Q. Have you noted that Cleveland is playing any more physical with Tatum during this series, and how do you think he's responded to that? Looks like J.R. [Smith] is consistently trying to keep a body on him?
BRAD STEVENS: J.R., Jeff Green, they're playing really hard on Tatum and making it very tough. But he's had a lot of experiences over the last couple weeks dealing with playoff defense. I thought Milwaukee guarded him exceptionally hard and were really committed when he drove to the rim to having multiple bodies there. I thought that Philly obviously guarded him very hard. It's hard to make plays at this level in these games, and he's done that pretty consistently.

Q. All Tatum all the time here. They often say of rookies by this time of year they're not a rookie anymore because of the long season. Your injuries and the fact you've gone this deep, has that sort of accelerated Jayson's development beyond even just an 82-game season?
BRAD STEVENS: I think that we misuse the word development sometimes. I think we're in the business of enhancement. I think Jayson was ready to deal with everything that comes with this because of who he is and his family and all his coaches before, because he's a very emotionally steady, smart player that was going to perform at a high level above his age. I don't know that anybody could guess this as a rookie, but you knew he was going to be really good.

Q. You talk all the time about being in the offense's airspace, and when you guys are on offense, cutting with a purpose. How would you evaluate just the force that you guys played with from the opening jump?
BRAD STEVENS: I need to talk more about making layups. But the end of the day, our guys have hung their hat on the defensive end of the floor. It takes a lot of energy, it takes a lot of effort, it takes a lot of teamness. We were not the more connected team in Cleveland. That bothered us all, I think. And we wanted to come out and defend well. That doesn't mean they didn't miss some shots they normally hit. We'll go back and see that, I'm sure. We'll see areas that we can get a lot better at. But they keep putting us in those tough positions, and LeBron just keeps putting us in those tough positions with those picks. Just have to play as hard as you can.

Q. The pattern so far in this series is that the team that has the home-court advantage wins. You now have two chances to wrap up the series. Could you give us your thoughts on that?
BRAD STEVENS: Just have to play the next possession the right way and do that as much as you can for 48 minutes. It's easier said than done. To do what we want to do, we still have to beat this team one more time. It's hard to win a game in the NBA. It takes a ton of preparation, takes a ton of focus, takes a ton of effort. That's the task.

Q. You already kind of alluded to it, and I know you don't like to compare necessarily, but was this as good a defensive game as you guys have played all season?
BRAD STEVENS: I'll have to go back and watch. I don't know if it was as good or if my rose-colored glasses are telling me it's good. Maybe we'll go back and watch and say it wasn't as good as before but that they missed shots. I don't know. But I felt like our purpose and -- again, we were covering for one another. We didn't get our heads down when LeBron and [Kevin] Love hit those first threes. We just kept playing, and we tried to do it as hard as we could.

Q. Ty Lue said that Semi Ojeleye not playing threw the team for a loop. Just wondering what you've seen matchup wise not to play him?
BRAD STEVENS: We believe in Semi and we think he's a big, huge part of our team. It would not be a shock if he plays a ton for us in Game 6.

Q. You guys shot 36 percent tonight. Terry Rozier struggled to get into a flow. What do you guys have to do to be able to unlock him? Was he playing too fast? What can you do to unlock him a little bit?
BRAD STEVENS: Law of averages play themselves out eventually. So play aggressive, have fun.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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