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July 7, 2021

Pat Connaughton

Milwaukee Bucks

Practice Day

Q. When did you get the idea that Giannis would be good to go, and then what did it mean to have obviously him back on the court?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: Yeah, I mean, I think we were all a little bit in the dark. Obviously we were just kind of hoping he was healthy. We were hoping he was -- and understanding that he was putting himself in the best position going through all the treatment and all the things that he had to do to try to get himself as close to ready, if not ready for Game 1 as he could.

And then, I mean, it means everything. Obviously, he's the leader off our team and he's a guy that can impact the game more than anybody on both ends of the floor. So, to have him out there was incredible and I think for us, it's just about making sure that we make the necessary adjustments going into Game 2.

Q. Along those lines, Jrue and P.J. were in here talking about, obviously it starts with defense. Was it the transition defense and some of the turnovers? Was it some of the switching? Where did you feel like today matters in terms of adjusting and getting better?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: You know, I think you can make the game plan adjustments and we will. Obviously, we don't want to turn the ball over. We want to try to limit fast-break points. We want to be a little bit more crisp when it comes to switching or knowing what defensive coverage we are in but at the end of the day it starts with making sure they don't feel as comfortable. That activity, that physicality, that toughness that we have brought all year, all postseason, I think we can amp that up a little bit to make sure that we bring that physicality.

I mean, if you look at that Brooklyn series, every single game felt kind of like a dogfight and last night was in my opinion one of those games where they felt a little too comfortable throughout the game, but also more so watching film after the game and finding ways we can adjust and be a little bit more physical, a little bit more tough and a little bit more aggressive.

Q. Along those lines, Jrue said they went to the free throw line too much. Is that the part you can't really predict? You have to try to make them uncomfortable but also find out from how it's going to be officiated on like not fouling? You know what I mean, that balance of getting up and being physical but not sending them to the line?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: Yeah, that's a game-by-game basis, right. But I also think it's not just the fouls from being physical but it's the fouls from being mentally locked in or knowing what they want to do. There were some fouls last night that were on shot fakes that we need to be aware that guys on their team love doing.

There's also the idea of knowing how physical you can be before the bonus and after the bonus, and so to kind of understand that, understand when they are in the scoring area, understand when we can make them uncomfortable, when we can be physical and then just when we can be physical when we are in the right position. Being physical doesn't always mean pushing them off their spot. Being physical means being somewhere before they get there, being in a position to take a charge, being in a position to go vertical, being in a position to make the floor look really small when they are trying to look for driving lanes.

Q. It was one of the better shooting nights for you guys overall in a while. What can that do? I realize every game changes but can that have some sort of confidence carry over -- Bryn hit some threes, you hit some shots, and they have not been going in so much the last series or two. Can that help to a degree? Is it nice to have that shooting start to a series?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: It can help, definitely, but at the end of the day seeing the way we shot last night, knowing we may not have shot that well at times in the last two series but our defense shows the last two series. It just kind of shows what wins games, and when our defense is there and we shoot well, you've seen some games where we've blown teams out.

I think for us it's starting on the defensive end, it's starting on getting stops and then it's getting out in transition and it's running, and it's spacing the floor and it's doing things that are going to put our offense in a position to have success. But how well we shoot or don't shoot the ball I don't think should predict how well our defense plays or if we will win or not win a game.

Q. What aspects do you think you need to be more consistent with in order to win Game 2, and what are your thoughts on Giannis Antetokounmpo's leadership?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: I think we need to be more consistent in order to put ourselves in a position to win Game 2 and defensively it's making it hard on them and making them feel more uncomfortable.

And then Giannis's leadership, second to none. One of the things I've said a few times over the last few days is, you know, his growth as a leader since the day that I got here was evident when he did go down, when he did get hurt. He was still present. He was still at our practices. He was still at our film sessions. He was addressing guys individually, pulling them off to the side. He was addressing the team collectively before games, during games, after games.

I think that speaks volumes to what he is as a leader, especially in today's NBA where sometimes you see guys who are injured not be as present because they are focused on getting back. Giannis was able to focus on getting back and get his body in a healthy position to play Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but he was also present in all of our team activities in order to make sure that he was instilling confidence in us both individually and collectively.

Q. Specifically about Jae Crowder, he didn't score much in the last game at all, really, and it sort of felt like you guys attacked him, depending on who he was guarding. I wonder what type of threat do you think Jae Crowder can be in this series?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: Jae's a great player. I think he's shown it time and time again, no matter what team he's on. He's physical, tough, great defender, great shooter, and he does all of the little things that may not end up on the stats sheet but you need in order to put yourself in position to win in the playoffs. I think he's a tremendous player and I think we obviously have to make sure that we continue to try to mitigate or match the things that he does on our end.

Q. What is the adjustment to defend Chris Paul and prevent him from taking advantage when he gets the mismatch on the pick-and-roll?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: Chris Paul is a great player. I mean, I think Chris Paul has shown time and time again that he is as good physically as he is mentally, right. So, he's going to make sure that he understands the game and he's going to try to create a mismatch no matter where it is on the floor. He'll call up three, four, five pick-and-rolls in order to try to get the matchup that he wants.

So, I think for us it's just adjusting and understanding that. We have to focus on the things that we do great defensively, you know, trying to guess what he's going to try to do or focus on what he's trying to do is going to take us out of the game that we have and the defense that we've played all year, and year-in and year-out over the last few years since I've been here. I think we'll focus on the things that we do great defensively. We'll understand that there's going to be times where we're in certain coverages, there's going to be times where we are in other coverages and then it's just about knowing personnel, knowing what he wants, where he wants to get to on the floor, the direction in which he wants to go and the things that he wants to do when he gets to certain spots of the floor in order to try to mitigate those.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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