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June 27, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Practice Day

Q. Having been in this position now with elimination opportunities a couple times with this team, do you feel more confident heading into today, tomorrow, the work you guys have, knowing they have done it before and there's maybe less nerves?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I haven't thought about that part. The thing that we talk about is approaching today with a level of focus and trying to get something out of today, and hopefully that breeds confidence. There's confidence when you know you've prepared well and you've put the work in.

But you know, every game and series to me is different. They have lives of their own. I just think it gets harder and harder as you go. I'm not quite sure -- if we're overconfident, I don't think so, but I think there's more familiarity with the situation than we had before the playoffs started, for sure, just because we have so many guys that haven't been in this situation.

So I think from that standpoint, yeah, I think our guys understand how important every possession is, every film session, all that stuff that allows you have success in the game. So maybe from that standpoint, having been through it with a group of guys who are going through this for the first time, maybe that breeds confidence.

Q. I could tell when you were talking last night about this upcoming game, they are probably going to practice today. How did it go and what did you feel like you guys got done today?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I just wanted the guys to be able to come in and be around each other. Get some feedback from them about what they thought. Walk through a few things. Any time we come to the gym, we're going have a bunch of guys that work on their game, get up shots, lift. It's that time of the year where practices are not, quote, unquote, practices, but you can come in and spend an hour, hour and a half just walking through stuff, talking about the game and trying to have a productive day.

I think it was good for us to come in and not sit around all day today and listen to whatever everybody is saying. I thought it was good for us to come in and get our approach and our mindset ready for tomorrow.

Q. You mentioned yesterday about how you reach out to Coach Popovich, not about everything, but specific things. In a situation like this where you are up 3-1 and like you say, coming in to focus today, what are things that maybe you've even discussed with Popovich about certain situations like this that will help you preparing for tomorrow's game?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I haven't when it comes to a particular situation. He tends to tell me the same thing, unless I ask him about a specific detail of a situation. Then he might recall an instance where he went through it. But for the most part, he is huge on less is more, and that's usually what I get from him when we talk. Keep it simple. Keep loving your guys. Keep doing the things that you've done to get here. But don't crowd their minds with a lot of unnecessary information. Less is more is always the phrase that echoes in my head when I think about our conversations about basketball.

Q. Just watching that game last night was exhausting and most of us were sitting in our seats. How are you guys feeling today physically and mentally? MONTY WILLIAMS: I think physically we came out okay. Mikal got popped a couple times because he was playing so hard and attacking the glass; he had 13 rebounds. Abdel was able to get back on the floor. I'm sure his body is adjusting to that.

In a physical game like that, you're going to have soreness and things of that nature. But mentally we came out stronger knowing that we can go on the road and win in an environment like that and win when the ball just continues to go in and out, in and out, in and out. And you know you're able to hold a team to 80 points and get stop after stop after stop and execute down the stretch to close the game out. I think that makes you mentally stronger.

Q. You talked last night about Deandre's impact on the game. What's been his biggest area of growth since the playoffs started?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think his every-possession mentality is something that wasn't poor during the regular season, but we've just seen it go up. Every possession, he is playing like his life depends on it. The effort, the stance, the ability to go get rebounds out of space -- you just don't see him take possessions off.

During the regular season, with all the games, travel and things of that nature, there's a tendency for all of us to just kind of get caught up in the monotony of the season. I've seen his level of focus go up in ways that most young bigs, you just don't see it the way that we've seen it from him. And we hope it continues.

Q. That hour or so between when you talk to us before the game and you actually take the floor before the start of the game, how do you spend that time to get yourself ready for the game and has anything changed in the playoffs given the stakes?

MONTY WILLIAMS: It typically morphs between one coaching meeting that turns into three or four depending on who walks through the office or where my area is. It could be a few meetings. I typically have my film set up watching games or situations, that kind of thing. And then I either have some type of Dick Wolf show on or I'm listening to Casting Crowns, something like that. Starting to think that I might be ADHD because I've got a lot of stuff going on at the same time. It's just the way I've learned to operate and try to stay busy. If I don't, I tend to get out of the less-is-more type thing and overanalyze stuff.

If I had to slice it up into a pie, most of that pie would be just talking to the coaches about rotations and tweaks and things of that nature. But I think all coaches are like that. You just spend a lot of time trying to get yourself as ready as possible for the game, with maybe a show or two that I'm watching or a book that I'm reading or a song that I'm listening to by a favorite group or something that. And then there's texting with my kids and my family, my wife, before the game starts or before I have a meeting or something like that. There's a lot of stuff that goes on.

Q. With Chris and Devin going from Game 3 to Game 4, when you watched back the film, did you like the quality of looks they were getting and the offensive flow and their ability to get back into it?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I didn't think the shots were bad at all. I thought there were a few late-clock situations where we couldn't get up a good shot, but I credit their defense with that. We put them in situations where they were in late-clock situations. Paul George had a shot clock violation. I thought our defense had a lot to do with that. Chris' close-out onto Paul in the corner forced him out of the corner, and we got a shot clock violation on them. Then they put us in situations where we were in late-clock situations. But I didn't think the shots were bad yesterday. We just had so many shots go in and out, in and out. I don't know if I've ever seen that many in a game.

I think those two guys, they got multiple defenders on them. They are being blitzed at times. They are being switched onto. It's the playoffs. It's us going against one of the more veteran defensive teams in the league, and I think our guys are doing enough to get wins. I'm hopeful that we see an offensive explosion here soon, along with the defensive intensity we had last night.

Q. Going back to Ayton, obviously his scoring and rebounding and blocks have been great for you guys, but beyond the stat sheet when it comes to your offense, how critical have his screens been in terms of initiating the offense and getting a few guys into your plays?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think the screening, if you just looked at screening as a concept, you could say, well, he's been great. But his intention to get the right angle on the screen has really freed us up to get down the lane or keep the guy that he's screening behind him so that when he dives, he has a chance to get a rim touch. And then when they are switching, he has a chance to get offensive rebounds.

There are a lot of components to the screen that he and Chris have talked about so many days to try to get that thing where it's efficient. So the screening for us is huge, D.A. generates so much for us with his dives, his screens and his ability to rebound out of his position or his space.

But to your point, that's a lot of conversations and a lot of work between him and Chris and him and Devin on the angles of the screens. It's been helpful for our team.

Q. Obviously throughout the season, we've asked the players about your quote, Monty-isms. "Don't get happy on the farm" and things of that sort. That's obviously rubbed off on them. What are things that they have done that have rubbed off on you?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think when they make fun of me, I think that's a sign that we're tight. That they feel comfortable with a word that I may use or something that I may say that could be out of nowhere or corny or whatever it is, they don't mind making fun of me. I think that's a sign that we're a tight group.

Last year wasn't like that. Last year there was this, not tension, but there was a wall still there. It was more me reaching out, making fun of them or talking about this and that kind of thing. I think the thing that I really like about our team is I can joke with them and they don't take it seriously. Like, we all listen to different music, and I can joke about the kind of music they listen to and they don't get personal. They are just like, oh, Coach, you listen to whatever, that kind of thing.

I think the relationship piece is tighter and I think they all understand how much I care about them. I think they care about me and our staff. That tends to lead to more intimate conversations, joking around, that kind of thing. They probably tell you some of the words I use are kind of goofy. I catch them from time to time when I'm talking, I see a guy looking at his teammate, like, you know, did you hear what he just said, that kind of thing.

So I think they have rubbed off on me in this way because they are looser with me now and more apt to joke and actually joke on me more than they did last year.

Q. Yesterday Chris called Devin an old soul. He said he's the oldest 24-year-old he's ever been around. I didn't know how you saw that idea, and what about Devin makes him feel like an old 24-year-old?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, he reminds me of a few of my uncles that if you walked into a room, you may think they are mad at you because they didn't say anything or they just may deadpan you for about 15 seconds. You look at the cars that he drives, he's got a lot of old-school cars. Not a guy that feels like he's got to talk a lot to get his point across. He's pretty secure in who he is from that standpoint.

The thing I like about Devin is -- the NBA has turned into so many cliques. I'm not quite sure if Devin has many friends at all. I know of a couple, but he's not one of the guys that is into the cliques. When he steps on the floor, it's about business. He's not about being friends. That to me is old school, old soul.

I learned, when I came into the league playing with Charles Oakley and Patrick [Ewing] and Doc [Rivers] and Derek Harper, Herb Williams, those guys were not trying to be friends with anybody when you were competing against them. Devin is the same way.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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