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June 24, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Game 3: Pregame

Q. What do you think is the biggest way for Cam Payne to maintain his effectiveness with Chris coming back, and how can he stay at that high level going back to a different role?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Not change. I mean, we've never asked Cam to change the way he plays. He's a different type of point guard. We felt like the way he played the other day is the way he typically plays, so we don't want him changing just because Chris is back in the lineup, and Chris would tell him the same thing. It really helps our team. It gives us a different dynamic.

Q. Because we're back in LA, I was thinking back to between Game 3 and Game 4 of the Lakers series when you had those two days off and you haven't lost a game since then. I know it's hard to reflect in the moment, but what do you think happened potentially during those two days that kind of ignited what has happened now?

MONTY WILLIAMS: It's hard to say. I mean, our guys take losses hard, as most competitive people do. Certainly nothing that -- I don't think I did anything differently. I did tell the guys to go out and hoop. That was one thing that we felt like our culture could never change and the way we play can never change.

The Playoffs tend to slow you down a little bit, and we want to continue to try to play the same way we played in the regular season, knowing that it's a bit more physical and every possession there's a higher premium. But I don't think I did anything differently or anything like that to spice it up. The players could probably tell you better than I just did, which is normal.

Q. Ty was just saying that you've got to flush the loss from Tuesday night. Players have that, too. Your team won an emotional game. How do you steady your team and get them ready for business at hand tonight?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Same thing. Our guys understand that every game has a life of its own. We came in with a great deal of focus, and we looked at a number of things that we did poorly in Game 2 to put us in a tough spot. That's what you have to do. The Playoffs are one game at a time. We understand that. It was an emotional game, but it's over with. We have a really good team we're playing against, and we respect them, and we know we have a challenge ahead of us.

Q. We all obviously know how special of a player Chris is, but given his time away from the court, what do you expect you can get from him tonight? Are there going to be any limitations with him in terms of minutes?

MONTY WILLIAMS: There's no restrictions on Chris, so we're going to obviously monitor what I see. He's always been pretty straight with me about when he needs a time-out. We have a normal rotation for him, but I'll be watching him closely.

Q. When he came back obviously at shootaround today, was he almost rejuvenated or excited? What were the guys like when they saw him?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Man, obviously guys were excited to see him get on the bus when everybody has been FaceTiming with him and that kind of thing. But to have him back on the bus and shootaround was pretty cool for everybody. You know, right after that everybody got right back to business. We watched film and broke down some of the things we didn't do well and got on the floor and had a good shootaround.

Q. With Nate and them getting that first win last night, I don't know if you had a chance to watch the game, but what do you make of what he's been able to do with Atlanta like midway through the season and have them at this point right now?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, he's just a good coach. He's a guy that, for me, he's had a huge impact on my coaching, my life. When I see the way they're playing, especially on the defensive end, I can see his imprint for sure. He's the one that taught me to respect the position, respect the game more than I did.

I'm not quite sure if I can answer that properly as it relates to what he does, but he taught me a lot. That's all I can say, just being around him every day for five years, he taught me so much about the nuances of the game, how to approach the game, how to build a program. I really enjoy the success he's having.

Q. Jae had that run last year with Miami, and he said the similarities from last year to this year were the younger guy that as the Playoffs went on, their confidence just grew and it wasn't something that they got intimidated by. Have you seen that with any of your young guys on this run?

MONTY WILLIAMS: It's hard to say. I don't have that perspective that Jae has. I know our young guys are diligent about their work, and they're good listeners. We have veteran guys that pour a lot into them. I don't think I've ever seen any of our young guys turn them off or act like they're above getting that kind of information and wisdom, so we hope it continues.

Q. I know nothing replicates playoff basketball, but it's really unique to have Chris at home in quarantine, I'm sure trying to stay in shape. What kind of program do you even try to put in a situation like this? What do you do from a conditioning standpoint?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I don't know, because the protocols are different when you are in that -- I'm not sure you can do anything. That's a tough one for me to even approach because I know from our perspective we couldn't do much of anything other than talk to him on the phone, so I'm not quite sure. He could tell you better. But I think when you're in the protocols, they limit what you can do.

Q. Do you have a sense of what kind of setback it was for him?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I'm sure -- I mean, it helped him too, though, because he logged so many minutes in the Denver series, so I'm sure a few days off helped. I'm sure he didn't want that many days off, but he's always been a guy that's, ever since I was around him in New Orleans when he had the knee issue there, like if he had to take a few days off, he'd get right back on the floor, and it was like he never left. Not many guys can do that. Who knows what Chris was doing on his own.

Q. It's been a decade since you did a playoff run with Chris. Other than the obvious sort of physical aging and stuff like that, what do you think the biggest difference is in him in that 10 years?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, he's had so many experiences. He's had gratification, he's had hurt, he's had a lot of stuff happen since -- I've had the same thing.

I think when you have those kinds of experiences and as you get older, you relish it more. As much as he lifts and changed his diet and all that, you know your window is closing every second, and you relish all of it, not just the Playoffs but the bus rides, the plane, all the stuff we do as a team. So I'm sure that's had an impact on how he continues to approach it with such a high level of respect.

Q. He's always -- that dude wants to win more than anything, but have you seen him enjoy the little stuff more?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Absolutely. I mean, the other night when we won the game, I was on my way home, and we were on the phone talking, and he sent me a video. His daughter played in her first basketball game and hit a game winner in her first game. That was what we were talking about on the way home, if you can imagine that.

I think there's a level of maturity that I've seen in him. He's got a bigger family, and it's just pretty cool to be with him again, and hopefully we can continue this thing.

Q. After the excitement and the emotions of last game, did you feel a need to kind of have a talk with your team to recenter them?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I didn't because we've had so many different things happen this year. You have to reset almost every day, from guys being in and out because of COVID, injuries, different lineups, testing, whatever the case may be. We've had a lot of stuff, and because of the veterans we have, having Jae and Chris is enough. Having Willie Green, who's been in these situations with Golden State, that's a lot of wisdom on our staff and on our team to kind of reset the deck.

Our guys, they're competitive, and they work. They want it. We've been able to turn the page after emotional stuff happens, and I expect the same.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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