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NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: CELTICS VS. HEAT


September 14, 2020


Kemba Walker


Boston Celtics

Practice Day


Q. Just a thought on what maybe you learned individually and as a team from the Toronto series that you can take into this Eastern Conference Finals and just maybe after a couple of down days your excitement and energy level playing in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat?

KEMBA WALKER: Toronto was a real challenge. Those guys are defending champs. Both teams gave it all we had. I think that's the greatest lesson, is the intensity of the Playoffs and how hard it is to win a single game. Yeah, especially learning how to finish quarters out and finish games out. I think those are a few lessons that we've learned.

Q. Erik Spoelstra just talked about how the complexity of teams gets higher and higher and greater and greater the farther you get into the Playoffs. I'm wondering what you think of that assessment and what are kind of you guys' strands of complexity that you think he's talking about?

KEMBA WALKER: I think you just have to be ready all the time. I think Miami is even just a whole different team than Toronto. They play very differently. We just have to adjust or be able to adjust pretty fast, switch things on and off pretty fast.

As soon as that series was over against Toronto, we kind of had to shift our minds right to Miami. You just have to be locked in and willing to work really fast and on the fly.

Q. People around the league when they talk about the Heat, the word "culture" comes up a lot. Competing against them through the years, how would you describe how that culture looks on the court?

KEMBA WALKER: They play really hard. Obviously, I've never played for the organization. But you're right -- you hear about them, you hear about the culture and how hard those guys work. Playing against those guys over the years, I've definitely seen that. They have a great, great head coach. I've gotten a chance to spend some time with Coach Spoelstra, get to know him a little bit. He's a great person. Competing against him over the years, I've always known how great of a coach he is as well. You know those guys are going to be ready, so it's going to be fun. It's going to be fun.

Q. One of the strengths of this team is your versatility and now you're playing another team that also has a lot of versatility. In your mind, when you look ahead to this series, what are a couple things you think are going to be most important for the Celtics if you want to come out on top of this?

KEMBA WALKER: We've just got to be locked in. We've got to do it all for a very long time, especially defensively. Those guys have so many different ways they can score the basketball. We're going to have to be really locked into their shooters, really locked into Jimmy [Butler], obviously, Bam [Adebayo], who's just a different kind of big who can do pretty much everything. So yeah, like you said, we're versatile, but so are they. We're just going to have to figure ways out to get stops consistently.

Q. One of the things that Coach says he loves about you the most is that of the good teams that he's around he loves the studiers and you're one of those guys that will really dive into the film. He appreciates that you guys can really get into that. Are you one of those guys who in the middle of the night you'll wake up, start thinking things through, get on your computer, look at stuff? Describe how you go through your process.

KEMBA WALKER: I wouldn't say in the middle of the night, but yeah, I try my best to watch as much film as I can. That's the best way to kind of get to know your opponents. Obviously, I've been around for a long time, so Iíve watched a lot of film. I've learned over the years. But yeah, it's just a way to get your mind prepared for what you're getting into. Like I said, Miami is such a great team with great players, I want to give myself kind of an edge. When I'm in a game, I want to know what plays are coming and I want to know guys' tendencies and stuff like that. Just trying to prepare myself mentally for battle. That's what it's going to be.

Q. You talked about being locked in, but obviously we're in a situation where it's not a normal playoff run. How hard is it to be locked in but also using your platform because there's been so much discussion on players doing that while still competing?

KEMBA WALKER: Honestly, you've got to know how to separate the two. But kudos to everyone who was here for using that platform and to the NBA for allowing us to use that platform to help create change. Chris Paul, Andre Iguodala, Jaylen Brown, who's my teammate, those guys are the head of the snake. They led us in helping to use our platform to create change. I definitely appreciate that.

You just have to know how to separate it. Ultimately, we are here to play basketball and try to make a playoff push. That's when we're on the court. When we're off the court, we can use our platform to create change.

Q. Miami and Boston is historically kind of a rivalry. I was curious what that dynamic is like for yourself who's kind of relatively new to the Celtics organization.

KEMBA WALKER: I just want to play basketball. I'm not really worried about the rivalry too much, honestly. At this point, that's not really relevant. This is the Eastern Conference Finals, two teams trying to get to the Finals. Regardless of what team we're playing, it's going to be a dogfight. We both have great opportunities in front of us, and we both want it. It's going to be a war. Looking forward to it.

Q. Did you allow yourself to enjoy the series win over the Raptors a little bit?

KEMBA WALKER: A little bit that night, yes, for sure. I've never made it this far, so I thought it was definitely meaningful for me to kind of enjoy it that night.

Q. We've seen some clips of when you were mic'd up and your leadership and how encouraging and positive you are with your teammates. I'm curious, how would you describe your leadership style, and is that something that's developed over time, or is that just kind of the way that you want to be led?

KEMBA WALKER: I'm just usually being myself. I don't know. That's all I'm doing. Whenever I see a guy who's down and maybe not making shots that he's usually capable of making or whatever, if I see guys down, I go tell him to keep his head high. That's who I am, just a very positive person.

I've always felt that you can't really play the game of basketball mad or upset because it just compounds everything else. I just like to see my teammates with their heads high, with great energy. I know when it's me, those guys are coming up to me and helping me stay positive, helping me keep my head high, especially through those last two games. It was tough. Toronto box-and-oned me. I was struggling to make shots the second half. My teammates, they encouraged me so much to keep shooting the basketball, keep making plays as much as I can. Even though I still struggled, we were able to come out and get a win. That's because my teammates allowed me to stay level-headed throughout the game. We just have to appreciate moments like that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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