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July 7, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Practice Day

Q. Obviously with Saric, the guy went through a long season and then for him to have the injury.

MONTY WILLIAMS: It's just one of those situations that literally breaks your heart. Dario is a guy that I've been with twice. I coached him in Philly, and to get a chance to be with him here, he's what Suns basketball is about. Hard worker, unbelievable guy and he was so looking forward to playing in these Finals. And to play a few minutes and have that kind of injury, it was a tough thing to hear this morning when I talked to the staff and they told me what was going on.

I spoke with him and obviously he was shocked and just felt pretty bad. So I just told the team today to check on him and Karla. He's got a road ahead of him, but he's a diligent worker and we know he'll be back and better. But it was a shock to see him go down like that.

Q. How do you think you've grown as a coach over the years and what do you think have been those pivot points that shaped your growth?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I don't know. I heard a lot of things about my first time in New Orleans. I heard it from players, I heard it from staff. For me, it was trying to figure out what were the things that I needed to change so that I could be not just a decent coach, but also somebody that people wanted to work with outside of basketball.

For me, I guess when I first took the job in New Orleans, I was so focused on winning and coaching there were times where players probably felt like I was really tough on them, hard on them. I guess now I try to be a bit more considerate of how I get my message across. That's probably something that I, maybe, I've grown, hopefully, is I try to be more intentional and considerate with my messaging and I try to be effective over being right, I guess. But that would be something that you would probably have to ask guys like Chris, who I was with in New Orleans and I'm here with him now. I was more of a doofus then than I am now, but probably still a doofus. I'm okay with that.

Q. Dario wasn't getting a ton of playing time, but it's 12 minutes or so that you can dole out. What are your options? I know Frank played some yesterday. How do you think you move forward with those minutes?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, we have different options. Frank gives us quality size and playmaking ability. He's smart. We went small last night with Torrey. We also have Doolie (Abdel Nader), who can play some small-ball 4/5. So we're just going to try to make those decisions on the fly. But those three guys come to mind.

And then you just have to figure it out with your coverages. That's the biggest thing, is trying to figure out the coverages for those guys, because when you go small ball with a guy like Torrey or Doolie, it's trying to teach those guys a coverage when they're guarding a five that dives. That's not something that those guys are used to.

And then the offensive package can change a bit. Those guys are so used to playing 3/4. Now you got to put them in an environment where they're playing the 5, speaking of Torrey and Doolie.

Q. We obviously know that Chris and Jae are very vocal leaders and have been through out their career.


Q. Yes. (Laughing) With the younger guys, what do you feel like the key was for them absorbing those messages constructively throughout the season? And also it seems like that has empowered them to start using their voices too. Just maybe how have you seen that evolve over the course of the season?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think it started last year and in the bubble. We had guys like Ricky (Rubio), who is a veteran guy who could be vocal at times. He poured into our young guys. It was a bit of a setup for our guys like Mikal and Cam (Johnson), Cam (Payne), all of our young guys, DA, to have Chris, Jae, E'Twaun step into the gym and receive those kinds of messages.

So I thought last year prepared them, and they're willing learners. Now, most people talk when they don't know what to say. I think it took or it takes young guys a bit to know what to say when you're learning a new system. Once you have continuity, you know what to say, so that may help. And then Chris and Jae and those guys allow for those guys to talk. It's not like they're always talking. They allow for the young guys to express themselves.

Q. I know the goal wasn't to win one game in the NBA Finals, but how nice is it to get that first one out of the way? Because before you win four, you got to win one.

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean that's the deal. You want to win every game. That's everybody's motivation. But to win the first game at home was great for us. But we also have the mentality that we're not satisfied. We have been in this situation before. We talked about it this morning. We have already started to prepare ourselves for the best Milwaukee effort that we're going to see in the series. We're ready for that. I'm grateful for the experiences we have had leading up to this because I think it's prepared us for the Game 1 and in particular Game 2 as far as our mindset and preparation.

Q. Just to further that, what does this team feel like it learned in playing after wins in the playoffs, even going back to last series with the Clippers? How do you kind of preach the message that you had preached last series and earlier in the playoffs of ratcheting up that desperation even after a win?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I don't want to speak for the players; I try not to do that. But I think because of those experiences, because of the Game 5 against the Clippers when we felt like we didn't play with the juice and desperation that we typically play with, I think our guys understand that that's who we are and we have to be, no matter what the situation is, whether you win a game or lose a game. That's been our DNA.

But you would be best served to ask the players. But that's what we try to preach and motivate our guys in that direction. That's who they are, and so when we don't have that kind of effort or juice, they already know it. We just remind them, but for the most part they know it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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