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July 6, 2021

Devin Booker

Phoenix Suns

Game 1: Postgame

Phoenix Suns 118, Milwaukee Bucks 105

Q. As a teammate of Chris', when he gets a big switched out onto him on the perimeter, are you watching to see what's going to happen next? Or what goes through your mind?

DEVIN BOOKER: Space out. Coach talks about it all the time, our spacing. We have to punish teams for switching 1 through 5 like that. Like I just heard Chris say, we prepare for any type of defense and we watch a lot of basketball, and where we have been most successful in that situation is space out. So every time he shoots it, we think it's going in.

Q. I wanted to ask about Giannis. Were you expecting him to play tonight?

DEVIN BOOKER: Honestly, I had no idea, but we did prepare for both. I kind of took our energy away from worrying about that and just locking in on what we have to do as a team, because I've said it before, we focus on ourselves more than anything. But obviously he's a big factor to the game, and that can be a whole entirely different game and just scouting. Not saying they're better one way or the other, but we had two different game plans as if he was playing or he wasn't.

Q. What was the key tonight that maybe doesn't show up on the stat sheet, but you feel like you guys did this particularly well that led to the win?

DEVIN BOOKER: Just team defense. Communication through everybody. We don't want to make it a make-or-miss game. We want to make teams miss and we want to guard at the highest level. So that's where we have been successful, just banking on that. I think that Clipper game, when it was 71-70 for six minutes straight, we're not making a bucket but we're not letting them score either.

So that's where we hang our hats on, our defense, and saying we'll make it work on the other end.

Q. Monty was praising you and DA and Chris for having a lot of talks throughout the season about how to make that dynamic work and maximize potential. What did those talks entail and why do you think it's worked so well?

DEVIN BOOKER: Just like Chris whispered to me as he was walking out, he was like, we have been on his ass. And we have. That's why Chris can say that's who he's most proud of, and I feel the same way, because sometimes you walk around the court -- Chris will be talking to him, and I'll be waiting right there, you done, Chris? All right, let me go tell him something.

So we're all in his ear. We're all on him. And for him to retain all that information and come perform at the level that he's been performing, it's hard to put words to it. Because we have been tough on him. And he has gone through his phases in his NBA career, but since this playoffs has started you've seen his maturity and his growth grow to a whole 'nother level, and he's continuing to get better. His willingness to learn now, instead of me coming up to him, he might come to me and be like, so what should I do when this happens. So just little things like that. And he still has even more in the tank that he's going to show soon.

Q. Did you have a moment tonight when this all hit you like, wow, this is a moment that I've been dreaming about my entire career and I'm finally here?

DEVIN BOOKER: Tonight it was tough. When we had practice, when we walked in they have the Finals displayed on every TV. It kind of hit me. But it's kind of hard to reflect on what's going on when we're in it.

Q. The 16 you guys scored at the start of the game were all in the paint. You guys had the free throws way up tonight, do you think that's when the offense is at its best, when you guys are aggressive like that?

DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah, we always want to be the initiator of the game and start it off the right way and put pressure on the paint. We put pressure on the rim like that, it opens up other opportunities for people. Everybody on the floor can shoot and can space, so we know when we get downhill that we can make something happen for the team, whether it's score the ball or swing it to the opposite side and get an open shot.

Q. What were you seeing specifically that you liked tonight in terms of attacking?

DEVIN BOOKER: Just what you said, just asserting ourselves into the game early. I think the games that we have struggled this year, we were fighting uphill the whole game and starting off down 15, 20 points. But I think when we come out with that pace and that energy, how it should be for a Finals game, we're going to leave ourselves in pretty good shape.

Q. I think you said before whenever Chris shoots it, you guys think it's going in. That third quarter it pretty much did almost. What did that do for your confidence?

DEVIN BOOKER: It gives you all the confidence in the world. Like I said, we hang our hat on the defensive end, and anything that we're getting offensively is a plus. That's how we try to look at things on this team. So just guarding, and when we can give it to Chris like that and let him isolate any team that is trying to switch 1 through 5, we're in good shape.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Mikal's performance tonight and his defense on Khris Middleton and then offensively him getting out in transition.

DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah, he had the toughest assignment tonight in guarding Khris, especially the way Khris had it rolling. But we have been stressing to him all the time, just make it hard on him. He's going to make tough shots, but just always be in the right place. And when's out in transition playing with his length and his speed, he's a tough cover. So if guys want to sleep on him, or whatever you want to call it, he can make you pay. Teams are going to understand that's not the guy to leave open or that's not the guy to leave in transition, because he will make you pay.

Q. Going off that question of just kind of being able to recognize a moment of being at the Finals, at this point do you still ever get butterflies or get anxious, anything like that? Were you dealing with any of it on your way to the arena or going through warmups?

DEVIN BOOKER: I just get really excited. That's pretty much it. Us as a team and trusting everybody in this locker room, from coaching staff to training staff all the way down to the players, it's kind of hard to get butterflies because you understand your brother has your back. It takes a lot of pressure off you when you know, good or bad, that you're going to be in the game and you're going to be competing to win. So for me that relieves a lot. I'm sure all the other guys feel that, that you're not pressured to go out there and play a perfect game. You can go out there and play your game, whether you're making or missing shots -- I keep saying it, we're going to be on the other end defending.

Q. As we have talked about, Chris is 36 years old. We know he's going to the Hall of Fame. But you know, when they induct him, they're going to talk about his leadership, they're going to talk about his playmaking, but now they're going to have to talk about the 73 points he scored in the last two games. I mean, this guy is now a bucket too?

DEVIN BOOKER: Chris Paul, he's been a bucket, man. I mean, he obviously, gets his team involved. He's the greatest leader to play this game. But he's been a bucket for a very long time. And my six years of playing against him, or five years of playing against him, you understand that. There's no scouting report that says Chris Paul can't get a bucket.

Q. Jae Crowder, he doesn't score until late, but he's the only guy here on either team who had Finals experience coming in. Could you feel that at all, his impact being a little bit different than any other guy who hadn't been there?

DEVIN BOOKER: Just the leadership. You understand he's been there before. Our whole team understands he was just there last year, so we bank on him for that grittiness, that toughness. I think a big part of the game was him taking the charge on Giannis down there underneath, just making Giannis think that you just can't go through him every time, because he's a strong base. His shot didn't fall tonight, but as history speaks, we know it will and it can. But he impacts the game in so many different other ways, and whether he's making a shot, whether he's playing good defense, he's always communicating with our team and talking to guys and giving any type of pointers and being honest with them. I always talk about honesty with our team and when somebody's slacking just letting them know. And even if it's aggressive, we have a team that can relay that information and don't take it personal. And Jae is one of them guys that, if you're slipping up, he's going to get on you.

Q. Mark mentioned earlier that Chris is 36. We talked about this a lot. A couple years ago people were talking about him like he was done, like his contract was too big or he kept getting hurt at the wrong time. You're such a student of the game. I'm sure you watched that and I'm wondering how those words landed with you, but also how you've just seen him yourself with your own eyes this last year and how he's sort of reconfigured himself now?

DEVIN BOOKER: Anybody that counted Chris Paul out, I mean we just went down his track record of he's walking in the Hall of Fame first ballot. So you can't ever count any guy out that has done the things that he's done on the court. So if I hear things like that, which I did, I take it as complete nonsense. If he doesn't play another game for us, you can still pay him his contract. His effect is that big, you know what I'm saying? So he moves this team, he leads this team daily. Just having him in the locker room, I'm not even talking about anything he does on the court, he takes the team to that next level.

Q. I don't know if you saw, if you were close enough to the dribble that he did on Bobby Portis today. Have you ever been on the other side of one of those and how terrifying is it to be on defense when somebody can do that whenever he wants to?

DEVIN BOOKER: I'm locking that up. That has nothing to do with me. I'm locking C up. I tell him all the time. No, it's tough, it's tough. He's a tough guard. He's one of those guys that you take one thing away, he does the other. It might sound simple, but he just takes what the defense gives him. The ability to shoot the ball and score the ball from any spot on the court just makes you really tough to guard.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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