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June 22, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Game 2: Pregame

Q. How much does it help the team the way Booker has handled the ball and controlled the game without Chris to protect the home court?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Well, you know, without Chris, it was huge for us, especially in Game 1 after having about a week off. We needed all the points and assists and the force that he played with. I thought it settled us a bit and as the game progressed, we got stronger. We certainly need it, when you don't have Chris out on the floor managing the game, and like I said the other day, Booker did a great job of managing the game, closing out quarters and that kind of thing. So we needed every point, every rebound, every assist. It's not something we take for granted.

Q. I don't think we talked to you in-depth about the way Cam Payne played the other night. I know he's not Chris Paul but were you pleased with the minutes he gave and the way he managed the game when he was in there?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I thought we he came back in in the second stint, he settled down a bit. We've had conversations about him being him. Don't worry about being Chris. We like what Cam brings to the table. Nobody can replace what Chris brings. But I thought as the game progressed, he settled in, took over the team. He didn't defer to anyone. He started running the squad. And we're going to need that and more tonight.

Q. With Cam Johnson and Mikal [Bridges] specifically, looking at them, they played really well in Game 1. How did you see them evolving over the two years?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think that's who they are, though. They are not guys that are going to get the ball and get into their mix and then try to beat you against a set defense. They tend to be guys that play in more go-catch type actions and it does help having the continuity. Two years probably isn't enough but they have just gotten better. They are every day guys. They are the guys we have to kind of kick out of the gym. You know, like I said, we're going to need that and more tonight, especially without Chris.

Q. Would you talk about your relationship with Nate McMillan and how that's developed and what you've been able to pick up from him that's helped you become a better coach?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, Nate's my big brother. He has been ever since I coached under him back in Portland in 2005. I don't know how much more you can say. Somebody that I look up to, I rely on for wisdom. We talk a ton, like family. We've always been there for each other.

I just felt indebted to Nate for what he did for my career, the five years I spent in Portland to shape the way I view basketball some so many ways. He pushed me to go work because of the respect I have for him. I'm elated about his success and at the same time, I was also sad about Doc not being able to go forward in a tough series but really happy for Nate. He's just a wise -- I call him a plodder, because he just plods along every single day, working his tail off. I always hear people talk about the hardest working coaches in the league and his name never comes up, and I've seen it for myself. He never takes a day off.

Q. Talk about where Chris Paul is at.

MONTY WILLIAMS: We don't have the luxury of waiting on anybody right now. This game is so important; every practice, every film session. We certainly will see where he's at when the time comes, but that's hard to make that judgment just because COVID is so different. It's COVID and the playoffs. It's not COVID in the regular season.

I'm sure if I tried to keep Chris out of the game, he'd want to square off and go toe-to-toe. So we just make that assessment when the time comes.

But he's engaged; like I said, we talk every day about the team, about different ideas. We're watching playoff games. He'll bring -- "Did you see that?"

"No, but I'm sure you did." He'll tell me. He just has an unreal mind for the game.

Q. Along that same relationship, you've always had close connections with the players. How much attention have you paid to what’s happening with Ben Simmons?

MONTY WILLIAMS: It's sad, it really is. I've been watching it and I'm just blown away that one player is getting that much flak. I spent a lot of time with Ben and care a lot about him. I watched him every day working on his game. I know how much he cares, and so to see this many people attacking him; I know his intentions. None of us are perfect in this, you know what I'm saying. And so when you watch this, it's just sad to watch. I'm close to his brother, Liam, who is at Colorado coaching. So I hope that Ben uses all of this as fuel to come back and shut a lot of people up, because what we do is hard, and we get a lot of criticism from everybody. But what's happening right now is totally unfair.

Q. Have you spoken to him?

MONTY WILLIAMS: That's the last thing he needs is people like me calling him to try to cheer him up. He's a tough dude. I've seen him. I've been around him. The last thing you need in a moment like that is everybody going after you the way that this has happened. I've been watching it myself. I think it's kind of sad.

Q. Talk about the development of Devin Booker.

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think the teams that we've had to play against because of the way our team was constructed put him in a lot of situations that he's dealing with now, and it really helped us, especially the last month of the season. The crazy road trip that we had and the high-level teams that we played against, he's seen all kinds of defenses. When he and I talk, I try not to crowd his mind with too much stuff. I'll give him a reminder about what could be coming next. But great players, I don't know how you view that in the offseason, but great players, you look at these documentaries of great players, that's what they do, they try to find an edge or a scenario and they live in that world. I wasn't that good, so I have to like, you know, get my cards out and write up stuff, you know what I mean. That's the extent of what I can do. He's just a really good player, and what he's doing is something that comes from a lot of work. And I know he wants more. He would be the first one to tell you, if we won one game, we've got to do more to win two. I'm sure that's his mindset.

Q. I've heard you say before that the stability of the roster – for a guy like Torrey Craig who wasn't with the team, what was the process of developing him?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think a lot of credit goes to the coaches. We spend too much time with away from the floor; every team does. So when you bring a guy like Torrey on, there's so many hours after practice, pre-practice to try to get a guy up to speed. I guess my part is not to get in their way and let them flow in their gift. But the continuity certainly helps, because when you have guys that have been in the program for a couple of years, they bring the guys like Torrey along and show them what we are trying to do, or explain something stupid I just said and make them understand it better. It's not an easy process, but without your staff working, it's a lot of extra hours and it doesn't work, and all of our systems, coaches -- especially Riccardo [Fois], he comes all hours of the night, watching film, and that stuff certainly helped.

Q. Talk about the rotation you went within Game 1.

MONTY WILLIAMS: It wasn't anything I thought was great but it wasn't bad. It was what I expected after having a week off. A lot of it was Chris and a feel for what the Clippers can do and what we feel we can do. We try to feel as we go along. It's hard to have a set rotation when you lose Chris and you get into foul trouble or whatever the case may be. So we just try to feel our way as we go along.

Q. What did you think that the job that E’Twaun Moore did off the bench?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I just think he's a solid player. He's got a lot of experience. He thinks the game. Rarely is E'Twaun not in the right spot. He's a guy that can play both positions. He knows how to facilitate the offense. Not afraid to take big shots. So it was an easier decision just because of his ability to keep his head right, which is who he is. And the last game of the season in San Antonio, we got a chance to see what he can do even when he had not played in a while.

I think as we progress, he'll be even better.

Q. Talk about Ty Lue.

MONTY WILLIAMS: He doesn't get enough credit for what he's done as a coach. He's won a championship. Look at the things that he has overcome as a coach, deficit, down 0-2, down 3-1. Like all that stuff is experience that I don't have. You look at the coaches around the league who get lauded for their ability to coach, you never hear his name. He's one of the best coaches in the league. I think his team relies on that toughness, and that's how he played.

So I think it goes right to Ty. You never see him get rattled in those situations, and I think the team feeds off of that. So we talk about that a lot.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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