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May 14, 2019

Kawhi Leonard

Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Practice Day

Q. Do you get a sense of just the ripple effect that shot had, not only across the city but people are calling it a Canadian Heritage moment?
KAWHI LEONARD: That's the first time I've heard that. Pretty much everybody congratulated me and the team just on the win. But no, I don't know yet like the ripple effect of it.

Q. What challenges specifically does Milwaukee present, especially on the defensive end with their length?
KAWHI LEONARD: Just very active. They play together on both ends, a long team. They're coached well, and they want to play defense. That's what you want out of players, and they're out there doing it.

Q. How aware are you of how the country and the city both have reacted, the photos and all the stuff that's gone on since Game 7?
KAWHI LEONARD: She just asked that question. I don't know. I mean, I'm pretty sure everybody is excited just for us moving to the next round. But I'm not sure.

Q. You said you heard from a lot of people, but is there somebody special or meaningful who reached out to you to congratulate you?
KAWHI LEONARD: No. When I say people, either from going out to eat dinner or family, friends. I talk to the same people. There's nobody new or special that's going to come in. So pretty much just my close ones.

Q. Opening the series on the road, does it feel like you guys are the underdog in this series? Do you approach it any differently as the lower-seeded team?
KAWHI LEONARD: I mean, I don't think so. I mean, I think you've just got to go out just like it's another road game, either it's Game 3 or 4. These first two games are on the road, so we just have to go out there and play basketball, treat it like a road game, and that's pretty much it.

I mean, I don't think nobody really goes in feeling a certain way about it. They just want to go in and win a game.

Q. What kind of challenges does Giannis present? I think a lot of people want to see you go head-to-head. Do you get up for challenges like that?
KAWHI LEONARD: I mean, obviously, but it's not about us going head-to-head, it's about us trying to win the game. You can't get caught up in people's expectations. You've got to worry about self-expectations, team expectations, and that's winning, and that's what we have to focus on. It doesn't matter about the one-on-one match-up. This game isn't a one-on-one basketball game.

Q. How do you guys contain him?
KAWHI LEONARD: Just like we do. Just come in, be focused, make sure we know our game plan, show length, compete every possession, and try to limit them to one shot.

Q. By the end of the Sixers series they were really showing you a lot of bodies, trapping you occasionally. The Bucks tend to be less aggressive with that. How much do you go into the new series based on a team's tendencies during the year, and how much do you see what's there and then react?
KAWHI LEONARD: I mean, they help each other well. I feel like they're a good defensive team at helping and showing length, showing bodies on whoever gets to the paint or gets to the lane. You know, that's what helped them. They're on the same page. But it's a totally different team, different players, different coaches. But just try to go into the game and just play our game, be aggressive, and then see what the challenges are and see what their game plan is and then go from there.

Q. Obviously the regular season is different, but are there any takeaways from the four games you played against Milwaukee?
KAWHI LEONARD: Yeah, I just said that. Regular season, Playoff games, whatever game you go into, it's an experience. There's something that you can take away just from your mistakes or what worked well for you or what worked well for the team, and you try to just think about that and go in and see if that's going to be the better outcome for that game.

Q. Is it a challenge emotionally to go from the kind of game you just finished to starting a new series, seeing a new team?
KAWHI LEONARD: Not really. When you have your mind focused on one thing and that's winning a game, then it's just time to shift over from there. That's why you've got to stay even keel in this league. You don't get too low or too high until it's all done. That's what I try to pride myself on, just staying level headed and going into the next game.

Q. How did you learn to do that?
KAWHI LEONARD: I've said it before, just probably from past experiences, playing basketball, being in these situations before, and just learning from it. You know, I was fortunate enough to play for winning teams when I got into the NBA. Just being my rookie year playing in the semifinals and going from there year after year, I feel like it helped.

Q. How much have some of the players on the team this year been coming up to you and asking you about that experience, about the Playoff experience you've had and what it takes to win or what's different about how far you've been able to get in your own career, and how much are you helping them?
KAWHI LEONARD: It's really not asked like that. It's pretty much the situations of how many games did you all play, what was it like being in these situations or how many times have you played in Game 7s, things like that. But just trying to give them my experience. It's just showing them what I've been through or what it did take. That's it really, you're just trying to share experience and then try to take it into the game, see what's going on and see if they learn from it, and that's it. That's all you can do.

Q. When you first came here, how far did you think this team could go?
KAWHI LEONARD: You're talking about in training camp?

Q. Yeah.
KAWHI LEONARD: I mean, I wasn't sure. I mean, as we -- when you first walk on the floor, I was trying to be healthy myself, so I wasn't there yet. So it took like a training camp to get through it.

But they were a good team last year, so with the addition of me and Danny coming over, I feel like they didn't take a step back. The sky was the limit. As the season went on, I started seeing how guys' roles were and what guys like to do on the floor and how it was contributing into wins, and just went from there.

I really didn't think about it. I knew we all had a goal to get to The Finals, winning. That's what we did, take it game by game, day by day.

Q. With your personal experience and you being a champion, what do you think it takes to be a champion?
KAWHI LEONARD: You know, everybody being on the same page, being locked in. Everybody wanting to win, everybody playing with each other on both ends of the floor, and like I said, just not getting so up or down on yourself.

You've got to stay even keel because the game isn't going to go how you want it to go at all. So you've just got to be ready for the moment, those moments when they're high and low and just working hard, just working hard, just keep competing possession after possession.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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