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July 8, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Game 2: Postgame

Phoenix Suns - 118, Milwaukee Bucks - 108

Q. You forecasted that Milwaukee would bring the aggression tonight and but you said your guys were ready for that. How did you like how you guys responded to Milwaukee's charges throughout night?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean the first quarter was a storm of aggression from them attacking the paint, offensive rebounding and we talked about it all morning. We studied Game 2 versus Atlanta and that was their way to attack Atlanta in that Game 2 after a loss, was to just get to the paint. So, we knew that was coming. And they're a good team, it's not like this is the Finals and they're giving a Finals effort.

But I liked the fact that our guys just stayed the course and showed poise and we were down three and then in the second quarter, which I felt like won the game for us our defense was at a high, high level. We held those guys to 16 points. So, that ended up being the difference. Obviously, you have to do more in the second half, but the second quarter defense was tremendous.

Q. There was a possession you guys came out of the timeout up six and Mikal chased down a loose ball, then Ayton got an offensive rebound and got it to Paul for a three. How huge was that?

MONTY WILLIAMS: We had a few signature offensive rebounds. That play by Mikal, DA had one to kick out for a three. Those are the kinds of relentless plays that we have been talking about all year. We have a "we score" mentality, and when DA and Mikal give it up like that and other guys score, it's like they scored. That's how we view it.

But in that moment when they cut it to six, seven, we kept answering with a big three and you have to make plays like that to win games in the Finals.

Q. You mentioned those threes that you had to answer, there were three of them from Devin himself in the fourth, six to make it to nine, they cut it down to seven, he hits back to back threes to get it up to 13. And as a team you go 20-for-44 from deep. What about Devin makes him built for those moments and then can you speak to, as a team, how well you shot it?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, the guys work on it, we have a let it fly mentality. Our guys shoot a ton of shots every day, as everybody does in the NBA, but those are the moments that he lives for. Doesn't run from it. I've seen it from him for two years. He just steps up and makes big plays. In that moment, I think one of them he set a great screen, they had the help, he popped out he knocked it down.

The thing about Devin, he shoots the same way first quarter, fourth quarter, doesn't matter, his shot looks the same. That's a guy that's put a ton of work in his shot, but the mentality, he's calm in those moments. So, we're grateful for those contributions in those moments.

Q. Mikal had another great game. Even going back to the Clippers series when maybe he struggled offensively, just what were those conversations like between you and him, just either during that series or maybe between the two series that maybe helped get him ready to have the two games that he's had these last two?

MONTY WILLIAMS: There wasn't any. I just think this time of the year the last thing I want to do is crowd anybody's mind. I tell our guys to go hoop. I don't want them thinking about their shots or whatever may be deemed as a struggle. When you put the work in the way these guys have and we have trusted them all season long, when a guy struggles in the playoffs, I don't want to get in his head. If anything, I want him to continue to shoot.

We have a saying, reps remove doubt. If you get your work in, you can trust your work and I really don't talk to the guys much, if they do have a tough game, I think that's the last thing they want to hear from me.

Q. On the floor tonight what did you maybe see working for him? Because he obviously had the three ball working, he had that little pull-up in the lane that's worked on so much. He got to the basket to finish. What was maybe working for him tonight?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Well, I think tonight anyway he recognized once he started making shots and they ran him off the line, he was getting to his spot. Sometimes he would get close to the basket but he would get to a spot where he can make that seven, eight-foot jump shot. He's been doing that all year, it's just that everybody's seeing it now.

But I thought he had balance tonight, he wasn't just taking shots, contested shots, even though he could have, because he's long, when they ran him off the line he was getting to the basket and I think the other side of it is when DA's low, you can't leave him and so that allows for Mikal to get to his spot and the big can't help. So, I think DA generates a lot of offense for us because he offensive rebounds so well that the help defense at times can't come help on our guys when they drive and shoot those mid-range shots.

Q. I was just looking, your first Hornets team, which was only a decade ago, like only shot 15 threes a game. You took 40 tonight, made 20. Have you gotten used to where the league's gone from three?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I don't think you have a choice. I'm no different than any other coach, you have to adapt to the trends and what allows your team to be successful. I think the holdover for me is the ability or the willingness to still shoot the mid-range shot. I think that's something that I'll always be vested in.

But our guys work on it and I tell them all the time, if you work on it in practice, do it in the game. So, I mean, just spending time with San Antonio when I went back and being with Brett Brown in Philly, I learned a lot about different ways to score and how you have to adapt as a coach.

Q. You guys only made one two in the first quarter, but you were in the game because you got hot from three. How much can just a hot shooting night in this era kind of save you through a part of the game where maybe you're struggling elsewhere?

MONTY WILLIAMS: It's huge. I mean, the three ball is, case in point, when we were up six and they were cutting it, we kept hitting three after three. The ability to knock that shot down and have multiple guys who can do it certainly helps your team. So, that's who we have been all year, and I don't want our guys to change now.

Q. I know Devin's obviously a young guy, but what does he do to keep his motor always running at a high level throughout the game?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I just think Devin wants to prove to everybody he's one of the best players in the league, but not just from a stats, numbers perspective, I think he wants to prove it by winning and he's competitive. We have a really competitive team. Chris and Jae and DA, Book, all those guys, they love winning. I think that's what he wants to separate himself from everyone else is to not only put up stats but to show that he can lead a team to win, and he's getting the chance to do it on the big stage.

Q. Can you recall any moment where he's ever felt tired?

MONTY WILLIAMS: No. You know, there are times where I get the look when I even ask him about it. It's like insulting to him when I ask him about his stamina. I'm sure it does happen, but the really good players, great players in this league don't allow being tired to keep them from doing what they have to do. Every guy that I've been around, they have something in them to push past exhaustion. I think that's why those guys work the way they do in the summertime, so that they can be ready for those moments, when they are tired, it doesn't mess with their game.

Q. I think there's been a few times in the playoffs where something you've said in a huddle maybe gets clipped and ends up getting shown on the broadcast where you're talking to a player or talking to the team, and people seem to fixate on that. How do you look at that time when you have those timeouts and that time to speak to a specific guy or the team? What is it you think the best approach for you in those moments when you only have a limited amount of time?

MONTY WILLIAMS: You are giving me a lot of credit. I try to be authentic. Sometimes in a huddle I don't say anything, the guys will run the huddle. But I try to be an encourager in huddles, especially when I see a guy down or the team is not at the level where they should be mentally. I don't want to make up stuff. I know what it's like to be in those huddles and you want to know the truth, but you also need sometimes a pep talk, sometimes encouragement. I just try to be authentic and speak from the heart. Sometimes it requires me to shut up and not say anything. I think our players understand where I'm coming from when I come to the huddle I want to have something substantial to say or I'm just not going to say anything.

So that's just the way I approach it.

Q. You guys are halfway there, what did you tell them in the brief moments that you had with them before you walked in here?

MONTY WILLIAMS: We talked about it being a 0-0 series. That's our mentality. That's what we talked about this morning. We have to approach every game with a level of desperation and we can't look at the series numbers. But human nature forces you to do that, but our mentality is to play every game as if we're coming off of a loss. I think that's served us well throughout the playoffs. And we know that when we don't play with the force that is necessary to win, we're not as good as we can be.

Q. I think there was one possession in the second quarter where I counted at least nine passes before DA finished it off. What did you see in that possession?

MONTY WILLIAMS: That's just who we are. One of our pillars is sharing the ball. My time in San Antonio and being under Pop for all those years, I learned that when the ball moves like that, one, everybody gets to take ownership and, two, it can have an effect on the defense when you move the ball. Now it's not commonplace in the NBA to have that many passes but that was a huge momentum play for us. But that's who we have been for two years.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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