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June 23, 2021

John Collins

Atlanta Hawks

Game 1: Postgame

Hawks 116, Bucks 113

Q. What's it like just a game like this where Trae is going off the way he is? What's it like, but also the connection that you and him had tonight, as well.

JOHN COLLINS: Yeah, I don't really have -- in a great way, not much to say about Trae. It's almost normal at this point for me, being with him for so long, to see him get going. The way they were playing him, for him to catch a rhythm -- it's nothing new for me. 48 points is amazing, though. Obviously, he brought his lunch pail today and he was ready to go, but I always see him catch a rhythm. It's fun to see. Fun to play with, as well. Our chemistry has always been great since the first day we stepped on the court.

Q. So you knew that lob was coming off the backboard? You knew it wasn't a floater?

JOHN COLLINS: Yeah, definitely. I can't really give away how I know, but I knew for sure.

Q. Do you remember the first time that you caught one of those passes off the glass before from Trae?

JOHN COLLINS: Yeah, in game it was -- preseason game against New Orleans, and then we obviously did it in Brooklyn. But we've done it in practice a hundred times, know what I mean?

Q. Trae's rookie year against San Antonio at Georgia Tech, do you remember that one?

JOHN COLLINS: Yep, it was San Antonio? I thought it was New Orleans, no?

Q. It was San Antonio.

JOHN COLLINS: You sure? I thought I just watched it. You see, now we've got too many. But no, then again, I know we've got great chemistry enough for me to understand when he likes to throw certain passes and when he likes to do whatever. I feel like we've just built that on and off the court getting to this point.

Q. How have you seen your relationship with Trae develop in his three seasons, and where do you think it is right now chemistry-wise?

JOHN COLLINS: Yeah, I think we always have room to get better and grow in areas, but we're sort of at the we know each other stage without speaking, know what I mean? It's stuff like that that happens where I'm reading his mind as well as he knows what I like to do and I know where he likes to get to his spots, and we really don't need to say much. We just really need to have opportunities to catch a flow and catch a rhythm. And I feel like we did that tonight. It was easy to see.

Q. You guys have all talked about the confidence you guys have and kind of the cues you take from Trae and you guys are all used to seeing him do this stuff. You were down in Game 1 against the Knicks, you were down a bunch in Game 5 against the Sixers, you were down tonight with five minutes to go. Is that confidence what's allowing you to come back and win these games on the road in the Playoffs?

JOHN COLLINS: Yeah, Trae's confidence is a huge part. I feel like it gives our team some juice and some added benefits to know this guy is coming out to play every single night. He's a dog in his own respect, in his own right. He's coming to play every single day. I feel like teams have to prepare for him because he knows how to get to his spots and be effective as well as include his teammates.

The sky is the limit for Trae, and we benefit off of him. We feed off of his energy, as well.

Q. What has allowed you guys, tonight the Bucks get to the rim early, able to do what they want to on offense, but as the game went on you're able to shift things around and get the rhythm back in your favor. What has allowed you to have that kind of moxie the first time most of you guys have been in a playoff setting?

JOHN COLLINS: Yeah, really I'd probably say three things: the presence of veteran leadership to tell the young dudes on the court what's going on. Got to show some love to Coach as well for the adjustments made. And obviously ourselves for going out there and just competing and having some pride and not letting them just do the same thing over and over again. Trying to make everything they get as tough as possible.

Q. Watching you guys these Playoffs, it's almost hard to believe that at one point you were 14-20. How hard was it to fix all the stuff that was wrong at that point?

JOHN COLLINS: It was tough. It wasn't easy per se. Winning in this league is never easy, and I definitely feel like giving ourselves a deficit of games to come back and still try to compete to make the Playoffs is always tough. But as I said, when we have a group of guys who believe in each other, we have the right pieces and obviously Coach helping us to prepare us for the journey, I feel like things like that can happen in this league with the team we have.

Very tough, but we're built for it I feel like, as we've shown.

Q. When you've played on the road this postseason, did you know you had this kind of savvy to play as well as you have in the postseason? Have you surprised yourselves with the way you've played in road environments?

JOHN COLLINS: Definitely surprised all of ourselves a little bit, just how we've handled it, just how we've been able to win and go in those environments and still compete and play our game. But I feel like this year specifically was tailor-made for us to feel more comfortable on the road with COVID and all the extra tests. And now we sort of play series against certain teams instead of one game and gone.

I'd say the transition I feel like to being in this stage sort of was always there in a way with the new changes the league made this year because of COVID-19. So in a weird way I feel like it helped us. At the end of the day, we have to go out there and compete and win the games, but a lot of stuff factors in to why we're here.

Q. They went on a 9-0 run, they were up seven with four and a half minutes left. You all turned it right back around immediately after. How were you able to turn things around like you were?

JOHN COLLINS: Having that confidence and understanding to know that they're going to make a run. They have talented guys, a great coach, and we know they're at home and they're going to get energy and find a way to put the ball in the bucket. But it's a matter of us just trying to withstand and hold the fort and trying to make plays, and I feel like we did that down the end. It was knowing that we're still in the game regardless of whatever happens.

Q. You sort of started to allude to this a little bit, but I think you've been an underdog in 11 of your 13 playoff games so far this year, so for whatever reason there's still this perception out there that you guys are not as good as you're playing out there, not as good as the teams you're going against. What is it that you think people don't know about your team yet?

JOHN COLLINS: I feel like a lot of people haven't watched us until now. I feel like that's a big part of it, just to be frank. I feel like we've just put ourselves in position to do this all year, if you look at our team makeup and our team structure of what we've been able to do. I just feel like it speaks for itself in a lot of ways. But this team is dangerous.

Q. I think you might have said this a minute ago, but are you surprised that nothing seems to faze you guys, whether it's a road game, a huge deficit, whether it's crunch time in the last couple of minutes?

JOHN COLLINS: Not sort of a surprise. I feel like the guys on the team have done a great job of preparing. Coach does a great job of getting us prepared and ready to go, understanding game plan, matchups and just what we want to do and how we want to have a mentality as a team. I feel like all that stuff plays into the fact that not just who's on the team, not just averages, know what I'm saying? There's a lot of factors that go into winning NBA games, especially playoff games.

Q. Three straight series you walk into an opponent's building and win Game 1. That's pretty remarkable for any team.

JOHN COLLINS: I feel like it definitely puts some respect on our name for sure. Going into hostile environments and coming out with victories in Game 1 is definitely something to be proud of. I feel like it's prepared us for moments like this right now.

Q. We know what's happened in Game 2s the earlier two series in this Playoffs. How do you avoid not being satisfied with a split in these first two games on the road?

JOHN COLLINS: Exactly what you alluded to, watching film and just trying to stay hungry and understanding that we have a list or a resume of games in the Playoffs that we can go look at and try to get better at and improve on. But as I said before, I feel like just having that experience gives us a little bit of extra confidence knowing that we can change the outcome of this series and not let it be the same.

Q. You've got a pretty good T-shirt out of the last series. I'm wondering what kind of image from tonight, that one moment that you had that you might want to put on the next shirt.

JOHN COLLINS: There's a little story behind why I did that. Nobody on that team has a story that can be linked to me putting them on a shirt, for now at least. I don't really feel like it's going to happen, but it's a little bit of a buildup to why I did what I did.

Q. From all the things that you did, from the rebounding to the spectacular dunks to the key three at the end of the game, what would you pick as a personal favorite then?

JOHN COLLINS: For me, it's just the offensive rebounds. I like those because those are extra possessions. I just feel like it gets the team going, the energy on our team going. Those are gritty plays and plays that win games. Getting people extra possessions rather than making an open shot or dunking on somebody, which I love to do, as well, but trying to find ways for our team to win makes me happy at the end of the day.

Q. You made that comment about knowing each other without speaking. We've talked about this, the confidence in this team. Do you feel like the camaraderie and the way you guys are playing right now is allowing you to play a little bit more freely?

JOHN COLLINS: Definitely. It's been a very up-and-down year for us. Not really having a healthy roster for the entire year, having other guys step up and interchanging positions while other guys have to come back and rehab I feel like has given our team a bunch of added depth, experience and just confidence in ourselves to know that regardless of who's here, what matchups we have that we've really stretched the limits of this team out and sort of just tested what we can do.

As I said before, that just gives us extra confidence to just come out here and play free, as well.

Q. How do you allow yourself to not look ahead now that you have Game 1 on the road? How do you allow yourself to stay focused in this moment and take care of business with Milwaukee?

JOHN COLLINS: In a weird way, it's kind of easier to lock in and focus on what's in front of you in the Playoffs. During the season, 82 games, travel everywhere, just a different feel. For me, the Playoffs has sort of been a little bit of a turndown in the sense of we have one team to game-plan for. We have to beat them four times. So just an overload of information about that team. I feel like it slows us all down and allows us to process a little bit more.

Q. I'm curious because you guys have probably been underdogs in most of the games you've played in the Playoffs, has there come points in games where you've taken the team's best shot and you're still standing where you sense the opposing team is surprised that you're still there? Can you kind of see it on your faces that you guys have maybe taken a 15-point run and you come in and hit a few shots and it kind of deflates them a little bit?

JOHN COLLINS: Yeah, I wouldn't necessarily say deflate, but I definitely feel like when teams play us for the first time, there's a different presence or energy that comes about them to let them know that we're serious.

I definitely feel like we've taken a lot of teams' best shots, but we're just so prepared in a lot of ways that you're going to have to continue to give us that best shot all night or we're just going to keep knocking at the door. That's what I feel like is one of the most dangerous things about this team, is you've got to play really well the entire night. Like I say, we're coming.

Q. Almost anyone would agree that taking a shimmy three and lobbing one off the backboard during a conference final game is something that pretty much no one in the universe would attempt. But Trae Young attempted both of those tonight. What does that say and what effect did it have on you and your teammates to see that kind of swag?

JOHN COLLINS: You know, Trae is a bold dude, to just be frank with you. He lives for those moments. I don't know what more people need to see from him in the Playoffs to let them know that he's a big-time player. He loves the bright lights. I forgot about the shimmy, but that's just Trae. That's his swag. If it helps him make the shot, then keep shimmying, my boy.

Q. That lob off the glass, what impact did it have on your emotion at that moment?

JOHN COLLINS: For me that's a spark of energy at that moment. Me and Trae came to some basketball chemistry understanding, and I went up and finished the play. I just feel like it turns my motor back up a little bit and just making me play a little extra harder. I just dunked on somebody, so that's going to turn me up.

Q. Kind of reflecting back to your draft press conference and just how young you looked and how new everything was to you and your mom was kind of telling childhood stories, have you taken the time to kind of reflect on how far you've come and kind of sit back and be like, this is where I am right now?

JOHN COLLINS: You know, I definitely do. It's kind of hard to just continue to do it during the season or during moments like these, big moments where I'm continuing to look forward. But it really happens all the time. I'm really thinking about it all the time, about my progression, about the future, about the present. But it's something I think about a lot and you want to continue to mold into something that is the best for me.

Q. We see your connection on and off the court with Trae. How much do you enjoy playing with him, and what do you think of his progress through the years?

JOHN COLLINS: I love playing with Trae. I always tell everybody I feel like our games fit like puzzle pieces. He's great at creating and finding slivers and holes, and I'm great at finishing those great plays that he makes. I feel like it just makes a great combo, as well as us liking each other off the court. But it's great to see him mature and grow. I will say he's always had that swag. But it's definitely becoming a little bit more mature and understanding certain moments and certain instances where he can impose his will. I feel like he's finding ways to do that more and more now.

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