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July 5, 2021
Q. We saw the shooting game back. It's been awhile since we have been to practice and seen that. Jae got you at the end there, didn't he?
DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah, that's overtime for us. Once you start shooting from half court he got me. He got me.
Q. I wanted to ask you about playing against Jrue. He's someone you'll spend time with on both ends of the court in this series, just your impressions of his game and that matchup you've gotten over the years against him.
DEVIN BOOKER: He's a competitor at the highest level and you understand that you're getting that. So, you have to be on your P's and Q's and I've been watching him in the previous series and who he's matched up with and he's guarding those primetime guys, so I'm sure I'll see him out there, but you have to be locked in when you're playing against him for sure.
Q. Since you're the elder statesman of this franchise, I use that word -- can you give us an idea what the people here think about the Suns and also your chances of winning a championship, the fans?
DEVIN BOOKER: What they think about the Suns? I mean, I think it's the baby here. It's the only professional team that has Phoenix in it. Every other team is Arizona. So, Phoenix Suns is the baby franchise here and they love it with a passion. I'm wearing the shirt from '93 right now. I think it started around that time to when they developed that, you hear people talk about, I remember when I watched Charles [Barkley] and them, like, you hear those stories at all times, and seeing the passion in their eyes when they're telling the stories and even being at the bottom of the barrel for the past five years and them still showing up and showing love shows that same type of love that they have for this team.
Q. Do you have any examples of maybe the last couple weeks when you've had interactions with people, any stories to tell about how excited they are?
DEVIN BOOKER: Not really. I haven't been around too many people. I've just been in the house, for real. So, I've been laying low.
Q. You and Chris have joked in recent days about how when you used to play against each other that you would practically almost fight on the court just because you're both so competitive. Is there an example or a moment that when you think about that, that comes to mind, like during a game early on in your career, where that competitiveness really came out between the two of you?
DEVIN BOOKER: I used to try to bring him to the post every time he would switch on me. So, while you're walking down there to the post, he would be, like, I'm not going for that, I'm not going for that today. And we actually went back on an app that you can check every shot that you've matched up against somebody last year, and I scored on him a couple times, and he stopped me a couple times, so we just stopped that conversation, that narrative. But we also got into it the first day here when we had our first practice as a team, we were doing a three-on-three drill, and it's just, it's kind of the survival of the fittest mindset. I don't think it's really about the throw hands, but the closest thing you can do to that without doing it.
Q. To follow-up on that too, I know you spend a lot of time watching games with him as well. Just, what is it like, what do you get by watching maybe another game with Chris that is different than maybe when you're practicing with him on the floor, you're on the floor with him? What do you learn from him by just watching a game with him?
DEVIN BOOKER: The attention to detail. And I feel it, too, ever since I got to the NBA. You watch games a different way than you did growing up. You're not watching it for entertainment anymore. You're scouting the whole time you're watching. So, it might be a simple play. Somebody might have scored on this possession over here. You sit back. You rewind it. Hey, look over here, do you see what they did over here? So, it's just viewing the game a different way, seeing the game a different way, and just understanding tendencies and communicating it out loud when you see it. We're not sitting there watching the game in silence. We're sitting there, like, they let him do that again? We have to take that away when we play them. So, it's just a whole other level of basketball and film study when you're with Chris.
Q. What's your perspective on if you think there's enough of an appreciation for what you guys have done to get to this stage and the growth you've shown as opposed to any fans just chalking it up to facing three teams that didn't have some of their star players in some of the games?
DEVIN BOOKER: I mean, we're not here to justify what we're doing to anybody else, for real. I mean, weâ€™ve had had goals for this group and aspirations for this group since day one. We keep those in-home for that reason. We compete against each other and we're on the constant pursuit to get better every day. Even during the regular season a simple play might go by and we stress it, we stress that this can't happen. I know it doesn't matter right now, but later down the line it can come back and get you and we don't want that to happen. So just the focus for everybody to be locked in from top to bottom, not just the guys that are getting major minutes right now, 1 through 15, 16, with the coaching staff, just locked in at all levels preparing for this opportunity right here.
Q. Obviously at this time of the year everybody tightens up, everybody's focus increases, but have you noticed a distinct difference in Chris right now?
DEVIN BOOKER: He's always locked in, to be completely honest. I mean, I'm sure he might be feeling a different way in this first appearance here, but he's not going to show us no frantic movement or any nervousness. I think he's prepared for this, and it's more of an I've been waiting this long, preparing for this moment right here, and it's right in front of us. So, he's not walking a different way. He's not talking different way. But there's an understanding between all of us on what time it is and what we have to accomplish.
Q. Have you thought about what ways West Michigan helped shape your passion and your love for the game?
DEVIN BOOKER: That's where it all started. That's where it all started. Man, you threw me back thinking about it now. I'm reminiscing in my head right now. But that's where I fell in love with the game. I fell in love with that Pistons team. They taught me the game of basketball. And just being around everybody in West Michigan. I remember Drake Harris, just looking up to him every day and wanting to be him. But Michigan-Michigan State rivalry game, just all that, all those memories, all the stories, that's where I learned the fundamentals of the game, honestly. I always say I learned the fundamentals in Michigan, and then when I moved to Mississippi, it brought more of the dog out. So, it was a great balance for me and I credit Michigan for a lot of my success, especially Grand Rapids, my hometown.
Q. I know things worked out well, but did you ever stop and think about what things would have been like had you not left?
DEVIN BOOKER: I haven't. I haven't thought about that. I think things would have been a little different. Obviously, I think you learn by living through experiences, and I would have lived a totally different lifestyle if I stayed in Michigan. But I love Michigan and I go back there in the summertime and I spend a lot of time out there. Me and my friends were just talking about it for like the 4th. We were like, Any other place you would rather be if you weren't in the Finals? And it would be on Lake Michigan probably. But Milwaukee's on the other side of it, so we'll be going up there soon.
Q. What's been the hardest part to get to this point for you and your journey? And what's it like finally now to be in this moment? Has it hit you that you're actually in the NBA Finals and four wins away from a trophy?
DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah, I don't think it will hit me until it's all over. Even Western Conference champs, I mean, we're on this pursuit to do what we set out to do and we are here now. So, it's kind of hard to reflect on what you're doing when you're in the moment. So, our main focus right now is to win those four basketball games and that's pretty much it.
Q. For you guys this year the Bucks have switched a lot against you, especially in crunch time. You mentioned going up against Chris and switching and kind of what you used to do when you would get a switch. How do you feel like you've developed and gotten better in that regard, whether it's attacking a switch or moving the ball and deciding not to attack a switch?
DEVIN BOOKER: I mean, we have seen it a lot. I think that's what the NBA has went to. A lot of teams, especially trying to keep people out of their paint, will just switch 1 through 5, and everybody has to guard up. But you scout that. We scout that and we try to take advantage of that. I think the Clippers used that against us a lot also, and Deandre being able to use his size and his ability to get on the offensive glass and move whoever his mismatch is, helps out a lot also. And then just having dynamic guards with Chris, Mikal, Jae and having the floor spaced and just creating for each other. So, we're expecting to see that a bit.
Q. Either on a switch or maybe just straight up, Tuck [P.J. Tucker] is going to be that guy. For you, is that something, like, you're excited about going up against him?
DEVIN BOOKER: So excited. So excited. We have obviously had those matchups before in practice that have gotten heated at the highest level, but he's a competitor, and I have a lot of respect for that man, so we're going to be out there battling, for sure.
Q. Did you have the scoreboard like you did with Chris at all? Like, who --
DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah. Me and Tuck's was a lot worse than me and Chris's, so. Me and Chris, we talked a lot. Me and Tuck, we bumped into each other a little bit.
Q. Coming into these playoffs there was a lot of discussion about this team's lack of experience and if that would show up at some point, and I think Game 3 against the Lakers you get ejected, Jae gets ejected, maybe it looks like composure is starting to go away. How did you guys kind of level it in that moment? And do you view that as like a really important experience for this team in this postseason run?
DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah. We took a long road trip at the end of the season that even through that game I think we went like 3-2 on the road trip. It was five games, it was like Philly, Boston -- I forgot -- it was a loaded lineup. And they were all competitive games and we were like, this is how it's going to be at some level. And then we experienced the Lakers series and we're like, I'm glad we went through that, I'm glad we had those two losses, because you learn so much in that time. Obviously you never want to lose, but the level of focus that we bring back into the arena and the gym the next day, it's not more talking about it, it's like a demeanor and an energy that you can feel throughout everybody.
And having gone through that, that experience, shaped us for the next series in Denver. And then seeing the Clippers and dropping two games to them also. So just understanding that it's a series and it's a long series and you're going to have to play, you're going to have to play hard, win, lose or draw.
Somebody said before the playoffs started like when you win a game you feel like you can't lose again, when you lose you feel like you can't win again. And that's the playoffs for real. People get too high, people get too low, youâ€™re hearing everybody talking from every different angle but you have to understand where you're trying to go and what we're trying to do.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports