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June 26, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Game 4: Pregame - 2

Q. Do you have an update for Cam Payne on this game?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Cam's good to go. He had a decent workout yesterday. He was good coming in this morning, so he should be good to go.

Q. You mentioned something in post-game about how you thought you took too many like late-clock shots. Do you feel like you guys played too slow in Game 3?

MONTY WILLIAMS: In some sense we did. There were times where we walked the ball down the floor off of makes. That was something we talked about yesterday, just getting more organized and getting the ball down the floor.

Q. Cam can obviously help in that, but does Chris kind of, do you feel like Chris will be a little bit zippier tonight, I guess?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think he will. I think he needed that game to get his feet under him. It's hard to sit for 10 days and then come back out there and play like you just never left the floor. So I'm sure he'll be, have a bit more juice tonight.

Q. You talked last night about the energy consistently throughout the game. What are the things that are going to show you that the energy is there tonight?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Boxing out. That was something that, we were stargazing when the shot went up or we didn't switch properly and Zubac had five offensive boards in the first half. The signature play was when Zubac had the dunk. He missed it and Terance Mann was the first guy to the ball and he beat three or four of our guys. So that kind of environment is something that we have to improve in.

Q. Playing with pace and Chris talking about wanting to do that. Cam had been the pace guy, but Chris obviously can do that, so how are you sensing that may look with Cameron announcing now that he can go tonight, right?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Both those guys get the ball down the floor quickly but I think we have to take advantage of the hit-ahead pass more. A lot of times Book is the recipient of that pass and he can get the ball down the floor before the defense gets set. That's something that we didn't see as much in Game 3. And give them credit. They have had a really good mentality getting back in transition and showing bodies. So it helps to rebound, long rebound, so you can get out and play in that environment. But that's who we have been all year. We want to be able to get out and play with pace. It doesn't matter who the lead guard is.

Q. I saw [Abdel] Nader is questionable. Is he now available to go today?

MONTY WILLIAMS: He's available.

Q. Are you surprised that, getting to this point, he's been out for so long? What do you expect that you can get out of him at this point in the playoffs?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I expect him to play well. I really do. He's worked his tail off. He got a chance to scrimmage yesterday, and he's a guy that gives you a different element. He's a big, strong, physical guy, can shoot it, get downhill and he defends.

So we don't want to put him in harm's way, we certainly wouldn't play him in a long, long stretch, but if we get a chance to find a moment for him to get out there and we think it will help, he'll be on the floor.

Q. A couple games ago Doris Burke said on the broadcast that she said, Devin thinks he's the best player in the league. But we don't hear him talk about that. Like he doesn't necessarily vocalize that or say it or things like that. Why do you think that is? Is he -- where does that confidence come from that he doesn't necessarily need to talk about it and have that sort of a response?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, you can just tell when you've been around the guy every day and the thing that Devin doesn't do that I've seen from the great ones is he doesn't make excuses when he has a so-called tough night. He doesn't blame anybody else, he looks at himself and comes back in the next day and gets to work. He doesn't back down from matchups. That's what I've seen from the top guys I've been around. And it's not something he says, but you can just feel it from him. He feels like he's the best or one of the best players on the earth and that's what I felt from him from day one.

Q. You said, from day one, but have you noticed any difference from him last year versus this year with that role and confidence?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, not really. There's no lack of confidence with Book. But his ability to share with Chris was something that I wasn't aware of because we hadn't been in that situation. So he's been, he just wants to win. That's what I've seen this year. It doesn't have to be about him. He's been willing to give the ball to Chris and make plays in a different way. And the way that he gives up his body, especially when he has to take on a big, he's one of the rare scorers that is that size that will do that and it doesn't get talked about enough.

Q. How do you spend the off days? Do you stay in it? Do you try to remove yourself from it? Because it's game, off-day, game, off-day, so it's a lot of basketball.

MONTY WILLIAMS: I'm probably like most coaches, just go back to your room and bunker down. Film. It's weird this time of the year because there's not a ton of games on to learn from, so you just end up watching more and more games to see if you can find an edge. And then I can hear, in my mind, like, Pop [Gregg Popovich] telling me, less is more, less is more. Fill your cup, fill your cup type thing. So you take a break for two minutes, and then you get right back on, because he has five rings and I don't.

So my family is a huge part of my breaks. When I can get my boys and watch games with them or we have family time and we're able to talk about stuff that's a lot more important than basketball, that's a valuable time for me as a father and a husband, to be able to talk to my boys about life and listen to their questions. That's, especially on the road, there's nothing to do. I'm not going out to eat or, so my time here has been with my boys in my room or watching film or just kind of trying to get ready for the next thing that's in front of us.

Q. Nothing to do on the road in L.A.?

MONTY WILLIAMS: You just don't know me that well.

Q. I was going to ask, you said that you hear Pop's voice in your head all the time. Have you been in contact with him about this playoff run?

MONTY WILLIAMS: In the beginning we had a really good conversation about how to approach it. He just told me some things that were really important for me, kind of gave me a bit of a release, just said, Love 'em up. This is a fun time for you guys. And that my job was to give the group confidence. And we both talked about the nerves that we all have as coaches, and there's no shame in that. And other than that, I'll get a text message or if I have a question about something that could be not related to a specific game but just a certain situation, I know that I can call him or text him and he'll get right back to me, just because he understands where I am. But he's always been a resource for me, but it's always more than basketball. He'll check on me just to make sure the kids are okay or that kind of thing. So I value that, those conversations with him.

Q. Secondly, you likened Game 3 to an old-school training camp for Chris Paul. How is his body feeling?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think he had to go through that game, which I'm hopeful will help him tonight. There's just no way to get that kind of work in. Nobody's practicing this time of the year, so he needed that flush. I didn't like the stretches that I played him, but it could end up helping us tonight, to get that soreness out of your body and get your body recalibrated, I think will help him tonight.

Q. In terms of the wing rotation and Cam and Mikal and Torrey, how have you felt like Torrey's impact in the past few games has been just in terms of rebounding and what he can provide with his strengths the most?

MONTY WILLIAMS: We'll see. I mean, there were a few stretches where his ability to get to the basket has helped us. Game 2, I thought he made a huge play, where he fed DA for a dunk. His defense, he's a versatile defender. We need him to make those intangible plays, that offensive rebounding out of space, the ability to guard the ball and keep guys in front. None of us were great last game as far as guarding the ball consistently. Mann had a drive from the corner, got a layup. Jackson's been able to get to his spot and make really tough shots. Beverley got to the paint, shot a jump hook. So those are plays that stick out. When we're really playing defense on the ball at a high level, guys don't get to those spots. We try to stop you before you get to the paint. So we need Torrey to help with that cause.

Q. When you're looking at Deandre Ayton's development, both in terms of his performance and establishing a routine, what do you think were the turning points where he reached another level?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I don't know the turning point. I just know his focus has gone to another level. Like, he was always intentional and really cared. What I'm seeing from him now is a different level of focus, especially from a young big. Like the old adage is it takes bigs longer. You typically don't see a guy like Deandre from a big perspective have this kind of focus and impact, so I think the focus has gone up and I think a lot of that is credit to him and his work with Mark Bryant. They spend a lot of time in the film room, talking on the floor, and then Jae and Chris have had a huge impact on him.

Q. DA had a stretch where he didn't take a shot at all. Is that just a consequence of the position that he plays or is that just something like players know how effective he can be?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I probably misspoke, because when I watched the film there were chances where he was at the basket and he had the ball, and he passed out, and we talked about it, like, go up and dunk that. Like, he's so unselfish. When he catches it in the paint, like, if he doesn't have a direct line to the basket he's always looking to the corners or the wings, and there are times where he can be a bit more aggressive in those environments.

But I felt like we also can look for him more, especially when they switch and put Zubac on Chris, DA can go in there and seal, but we got to look for him. And we pointed out a couple of those situations yesterday. So I think it was a combination of those things. But for sure we can try to do our best to, from my perspective, try to find him more in the paint and even his floater. Like, he's a guy that can make that 15-foot shot and he also can make the floater.

Q. To continue on that Ayton trend, he's taking five less shots per game this year compared to last year. That's not everybody. That's not like every young guy that is willing to do that. Was that ever a conversation that you had, like you might shoot less this year or is that some sort of natural and has he ever complained about this that or anything like that?

MONTY WILLIAMS: No, I think it's a combination of things. Having Chris, having Jae and Mikal, his uptick has taken probably shots from a few guys. Cam Johnson, Cam Payne, having more guys that can fill it up. We tend to look at it a bit differently. His value is not just in the shots he makes or takes, it's what he generates for other people too. I think our guys understand DA in the game helps them get open. So he may have five less shots, but we're okay because we think those five shots are going to guys that can make a few shots. So maybe we get threes off of that as opposed to a two in the paint with DA. That's okay. As long as we make the shots.

Q. It's not every 23-year-old Number 1 pick might be willing to do that.

MONTY WILLIAMS: He's unselfish. He doesn't talk about that. He makes the right plays and he cares about winning. If you watch his fist pumps, it's usually for somebody else, when they make a play. That says a lot about him. So I'm not quite sure he even worries about that as much. He wants to win -- and he wants to score too, he knows he can have an impact on the game. I don't know if that helps.

Q. It just strikes me like that's not always something you see. To do less in that sense.

MONTY WILLIAMS: I was never in that position, so I couldn't tell you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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