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June 20, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Game 1: Pregame

Q. With all the jobs open right now, are you feeling a little bit more optimistic for black coaches than perhaps you had in previous years?

MONTY WILLIAMS: No, I think there's, I hadn't thought about it, just because I've been so locked in on the game, but I do feel like there's so many worthy candidates. Willie Green is a guy that's talking to teams as we speak. Darvin [Ham], Sam Cassell, Chauncey [Billups], these are guys that when I watch them and I talk to them and I think about where I was when I was in their position, they're so far ahead of me I'm like, wow, these guys deserve a shot. And I've had two jobs. So every chance I get I try to promote those guys and if I can be of assistance to them when they're going through the process, I hope to be. So from that standpoint, yeah, I am, just because I know where I was at that stage, where they are and I think about how smart Willie and Chauncey and Darvin, Sam, it's pretty cool to see those guys getting the mentions that they're getting and people are looking out for them in that regard. I hope they get their shot.

Q. Also, do you think your success helps and do you feel any pressure at all in that regard?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I don't feel pressure, I do feel a responsibility to work hard and to keep myself in a position of professionalism, because I do think Nate McMillan and Doc Rivers did that for me. Coach Pop, when I had a chance to go to different teams and I was in San Antonio he and my wife at the time, they absolutely pushed me to go to Portland, so I could work under Nate. Because he had so much respect for Nate. So I got a chance to see it every day with him. Nate taught me how to approach the job in a way that I hadn't seen before and so I feel a responsibility to do the same thing for other coaches, not just African American, but Hispanic coach, I've had James Borrego on our staff, Darko Rajakovic, who is from Serbia, different guys like that who may not get the shine that a lot of other coaches do.

Q. (No microphone.) What do you like about that specific look on the offense?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Well we do it from time to time, mostly at the end of quarters. I like it because it gives him [Devin Booker] a chance to see the floor from the top. A lot of times when he's playing he's seeing it from the basket view out. And it gives him more time to make adjustments on the fly because when teams blitz him or they switch, when he has the ball from the beginning he has more time to adjust. He's our best scorer, one of our best facilitators, he doesn't get enough credit for how well he passes the ball, his passes are on time, on target. So because of the situation we're in, he could be in that position a lot during the series.

Q. I wanted to ask you about not having Chris [Paul] out there and the changes that you guys are going to have to make?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I may have to manage play calls a little bit more than normal, but we have been in this situation a few times, not a ton, but Chris has talked to Cam [Payne] a lot, I talked to Chris last night and he was, he said, Coach, I've been talking to Cam and just trying to give him some cheese, that kind of thing. So you can't fill Chris’ shoes and we're not going to sit here and boo hoo, they're without Kawhi and Serge [Ibaka], you know what I'm saying? So we don't feel like we should be crying about where we are, it is what it is, but it's going to take a team effort to make up for all of the intangibles and the skill and competitive nature that Chris brings to the table every night.

Q. Curious what's the confidence level right now of this team, given all that's going on and where you're at? How are they feeling going into Game 1?

MONTY WILLIAMS: We're always a confident group. We feel like we have earned the right to be here. We have also have a great deal of respect for our opponent. And when you have that much respect for an opponent, you better have confidence. So that's where we are. We feel good about the week of preparation and practice that we had and our guys are ready to go. There's nothing else that needs to be said. We been talking all week long, it's time to go hoop.

Q. Obviously this season means so much to you guys, but what do you think it took for you guys throughout the season to be ready during this postseason to be able to react?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think the season in general posed some obstacles and different situations. COVID, the testing, we get tested 10, 11:00 at night sometimes. It's forced you to adjust your days. Different guys being out with injuries, different guys being out with COVID. It forces coaches to manipulate scheduling, practices and that kind of thing.

So I think the guys are used to it, just because of the season we have had. And I said this a number of times to our local media, our guys haven't complained one time. At least not to me. They have just gone about their business. We always say basketball in the NBA is a "get to" and not a "got to" and we're privileged to play and do what we do, so I think that's served us well.

Q. You've seen some of Paul George's best games this season, but what you have you seen of him in the last two games with Kawhi out in the playoffs compared to what you saw of him during the regular season?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Well he's certainly worthy of all the attention he's getting, because he's been dominant and then he's and able to take a step back and let somebody else be dominant. That's a sign of a mature player. He hasn't tried to inject himself into the game he's always had a high level of skill. And I coached Paul on the USA team, so you get to see those guys every day and the work they put in and so you just see that work on the floor. His handle is tighter than I've ever seen it. His ability to keep his handle tight and get his shots off is better than most 6-7, 6-8 guys in the league.

Q. Curious, of all the attributes and qualities your team could have at this stage of the postseason, where would you rank experience in the playoffs and what can you do if you don't have as much of that as you might like?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, if I were ranking it we were probably in last place, that's just the way it is. I can't lie about that. We can't change it. Because we're just young. So we don't talk about it, we just go out and hoop. Everybody else talks about it. I can't -- it's just life. You can't make your teeth grow any faster, right? Like they're going to grow at the rate they're going to grow. And we're just going to go out and hoop and we'll get experience as we go along, that's just been our MO throughout this season.

Q. When you look at the overall series what do you feel like are the biggest keys to this one and maybe what's going to show you in those first few minutes of today that, okay, we're locked in on those things that we need to make sure we take care of to win this series?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, there's so many things you have to do to have success against this team. You got to be able to guard the ball, you certainly have to rebound. They have guys who are physical and that kind of thing. You're always dealing with the switches with them, but most teams do that. But for me it's just the mental poise throughout the series, the ability to stay the course. We have had challenges all season long, the Lakers series we had it, our guys were able to regroup, the Denver series same thing. So there's been some chippiness with this team, I think our guys are looking forward to competing against them, but I think we have been through enough to know we want to win the game and not the argument.

Q. In light of Father's Day, aside from being one to your own kids I'm sure that you have been a father figure to many guys throughout your coaching career. What is the blessing of being able to be a father mean to you?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, for me it's my greatest responsibility and my greatest gift, to father my children. I have kids in all stages of life right now, adult, college kids, middle school, high school, elementary school, and I'm blessed to not only be their dad, but journey with them and it's the, my greatest joy is to be there for my children in every area of their lives and in my kids in particular have been through so much, any time I can provide them direction and joy, it just makes my day, it makes my life worthwhile. All six of my kids are all different and like I said, they're in all stages of life and they're all in my pocket. So that's a blessing for me and I'm just grateful that they allow me to father them and give them direction.

Q. Teams across the League obviously are increasingly going small, but what about them in your scouting -- and I know you played them a little bit this season small -- makes them so effective in the way that they play?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Well, their shot making off the dribble, that's the only way you can effectively stay small. You got to be able to knock down shots off the dribble because at some point you're going to end up in a switch rotation and they're one of the best. I mean there are certain teams that have one or two guys Steph can do it, Dame [Damian Lillard] can do it, CJ [McCollum] can do it, but this team has multiple guys that can get shots off the dribble, so you got to be able to guard without fouling when they get into that environment.

Q. As you said before, the goal is not bigger than the Conference Finals, but how much pride do you feel for your players and team members that make history for the franchise for being the first Suns team to make the playoffs and also make the conference Finals?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Well, I haven't had a lot of time to process all that because we have been just locked in on pounding the rock. But you can feel it in our fan base at the games. I'm happy for our guys that get a chance to be a part of this and then I have to turn the page and get myself out and start digging for more. But it's a natural human emotion to be happy and then for me it's like, okay, I got to turn the page and get rid of that and let's move forward and get more. So we want to keep pushing and give this city and this organization even more to be happy about.

Q. You touched on this a little bit, but when a team doesn't respond what does that do mentally to a player like Deandre, what kind of decisions does he need to make, how important is it for you guys to stay in sort of what you want to do versus reacting?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, you would have to ask him, I can't tell you what he's thinking. I can tell you what we try to get him to see in the environments we try to keep him out of. When you go small and you have a bigger guy on the floor you're going to end up in rotations. Well most bigs aren't used to being in rotations. So if you watch the Utah series, Rudy [Gobert] was trying to cover up a lot. That's something you want to avoid, that's not something we're just going to try to keep secret. So that's not just for him, it's a team thing. How can we keep DA, Dario [Saric], Frank [Kaminsky], if needed, out of those kinds of rotations. Because you always want to keep your best rebounder at the rim, best shot blocker at the rim. So that's going to be a challenge for us, but we feel like we can do it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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