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June 30, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Game 6: Pregame

Q. Wanted to get from you the message you give these guys, the vibe of the team. Obviously you guys have been in this position before, even in this city before, for Game 6, a closeout game in L.A.

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yesterday we talked about having a good day yesterday. We watched the film. We saw things that we can do a lot better. We acknowledged that they came out and played with desperation force, whatever you want to call it, and they had us on our heels to start the game. We talked about that.

And the mood of our team has always been pretty consistent as it relates to our culture and how we want to keep things. Obviously the stakes are higher and we all know that. But we had a really good film session yesterday, a good locked-in, focused session this morning and we expect our guys to play well.

Q. I know a lot of people talk about the lack of playoff experience that your group had coming into it. But you have a guy like Chris, who has been up 3-1 in his career, and you also have someone like Torrey, who last year his team clawed out of a 3-1 hole. How much does that help in sort of imparting on the guys that that fourth one is the toughest one to get?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I don't know. I really don't. I think all of the stuff that you've talked about, it's true. But I also think as a basketball fan and all of us who watch different series, we have seen it, and when you've lived it, you understand the moments better than anybody else. How it helps you, I'm not quite sure. I just know the experience of it all helps you. It could drive you, for sure. I'm sure they have talked about it. It's good to have those guys and those perspectives on our teams because it makes for high, high focus in your meetings, in your shootarounds. The details are certainly expected to be gone over and discussed because those guys have been in it. So I think from that perspective just talking it out, I think it helps you having guys who have been on both sides of it.

Q. Who during the season has played the kind of small ball that you can even draw from and say, Okay, guys, we played this against this team or that team that maybe can help?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah. I mean, we have done it a few times this year. Houston has played like that against us. Different teams have done it from time to time. They may not be as small with a 6-8, 6-9 guy like Morris, but we have seen it a ton this year. Brooklyn has done it. Miami does it; Bam is like 6-9. So we have been in those -- the small ball part, and then the switching and that kind of thing. It's not anything we haven't seen.

I think our guys, when you miss shots it makes it look a lot worse than what it is when you watch the film. The shot quality wasn't terrible. We missed a ton of shots, but it was more about the start of the game that we all were not happy with, along with them playing the way that they did. We had to acknowledge that they came out with more force than we did.

Q. The way you guys have gone through this journey from, I think, the second-best record in the regular season, taking out the defending champs in the first round, taking out the MVP in the second round. Has that affected the group's belief that you belong in this moment? Because you are still a relatively young group that hasn't been in it all that much.

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah. Sure. I think it's given us confidence because we didn't have much experience at all, most of our guys. But I think every series is different and that there's nothing you can really pull from that that will help you with this other than the learning that goes with the every-possession mentality that you have to have. That's basically what you take from every playoff game, that you just can't mess with any possession and how hard you have to play every second you're on the floor. I think that's the one common denominator that you pull from every series, like, man, that was mentally and physically taxing because you were so involved in every possession. I think that's what our young guys have learned being in the playoffs and going as far as we have.

Q. As a coach, what do you want your perimeter players to do in terms of a balance between cutting and maintaining spacing and staying out because -- and you want to maintain it, but you also don't want the offense to stagnate.

MONTY WILLIAMS: We have always talked about ball and player movement. That's who we are. The biggest thing is getting the ball down the floor a lot quicker than we did. When we do that, we're much more efficient and then we have more time to get to our options.

But I don't want our guys being robots. I don't want a guy to have to be in a certain spot when he can make a read. I want guys to be able to play basketball. If they feel a need to cut that's going to give us an advantage -- we talk about we score, not me score. We have a we score mentality. If you see a cut, then cut. If there's an opportunity to go to the extreme corner, then stay there. So schematically we'll do some things a little bit differently tonight, but we don't want to robot our guys at all.

Q. Knowing how Chris is as a leader, what are the most notable examples that jump out to your mind of how he's captured that for this group this year?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think the time that he spends with guys off the floor. He and Book have gotten so close. They live right by each other, and so a lot of the group get-togethers are at one of their houses. That's something that you don't see much, not this year, with COVID. But the other areas, after shootaround how many guys he'll take and talk to them about the angles of a screen or a certain situation. With a young team like ours, he'll share a message with them that I just shared, but he'll help them understand it a lot better than I did it. So that helps me and certainly helps our players.

Q. We see all over this league young stars where if they're doing their thing early in their career but the team's not advancing they get frustrated. You talked about when you get the job two summers ago you and Book connect right away and talked. What was his perspective then on like everything that came before you, where it was going, his level of frustration? Like, how did he feel about this scene?

MONTY WILLIAMS: You know, I don't know. The one thing I didn't want to do was ask any questions or say anything that was going to disrespect the past or any coach or any system. What I tried to do was talk to him about the things that I thought we could help him with, the kind of culture we wanted to have and the way we wanted to play. He would always remark to me, Coach, this is how I've always wanted to play. This is how I feel basketball should be played. And I would listen to some things that he would say about style and where he wanted the ball and that kind of thing, but I tried my best to not make any comments or statements about the past. It wasn't going to help us at all. I had heard enough, you know? And a lot of the stuff that was said didn't really matter to me.

I don't think coaches teach bad stuff, nor do I think players want to lose. I just think you have to do your best when you get the opportunity. He's been a really good partner with me since day one.

Q. What it's like to coach against a team that's down a star and keeping your guys engaged enough to where they don't look past that?

MONTY WILLIAMS: We understood not only how good they were without Kawhi, but the coaching, the experience that they had that we didn't have. That was the respect that I had and our team had for them. Obviously when you lose a guy like Kawhi, it affects your team. We didn't have Chris for a couple of games we played with the Lakers and he was playing with one arm. So we certainly understand what that's like.

As far as coaching against them, you always coach for the best team, you know what I'm saying? You prepare like they're going to come out and be the best team you've ever played against, no matter who is on the floor. You know certain guys are going to step up. You are trying to do your best to negate that. I'm not quite sure how else to answer that. As a coach, you're always preparing for the best from your opponent, it's just a respect thing.

Q. The team has been great responding to losses all season. How do you feel as far as the level of confidence in the team and duplicating tonight what you kind of did in Game 4 and increasing the intensity?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Well, we want to do better than that. We scored like 84 points in that game. We really want to do a lot better than that. The defense and the mentality has to be at that point and higher tonight. That's the deal.

Like every game in the playoffs you have to bring more than you brought the last game. We certainly have a team that has great remorse after a loss. We have a lot of sore losers on our team and on our staff. We understand what we're going against tonight. We have earned the right to be in this position. It takes a lot of hard work and mental stamina to overcome what we have overcome. We're going to use that to our advantage, knowing that we're playing against a tough opponent. So we're going to need more than we had in Game 4, for sure.

Q. Over the last couple of days a lot of guys talked about how much of an impact Chris Paul has had on them. Curious what would you say is the biggest way that he's impacted you?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I've known Chris for 11 years now, so impact -- we would be here all day talking about our friendship, our talks. I think the coolest thing that I've indirectly been a part of was having my daughter at the All-Star Game working for the NBA doing grunt work, probably shoveling up peanut shells or something for the league, and Chris recognized her and chased her down into a room, where there was a bunch of people, I think, and just went and introduced himself again and just spent time talking to her. She called me or texted me later on, she's like, Dad, Chris Paul came and found me in the room. I'm sure it had a huge effect on all the younger interns around her, when she's sitting around doing what she's doing, licking envelopes or whatever, and here comes Chris Paul into the room to say, Hey. He said her name and they talked for a while and that kind of thing.

That's the impact he's had on me. It's bigger than basketball. There's a connection and kinship there from the tough talks, the coaching, the texts, FaceTime, watching games. That probably sticks out to me, along with a few other things.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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