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July 10, 2021

Khris Middleton

Milwaukee Bucks

Practice Day

Q. After Game 1 you were asked about not getting to the free throw line. How do you kind of try to keep that out of your mindset in terms of going to Game 3, that you haven't been there yet, and yet obviously, I'm sure there's times you felt you've earned that right. Where is your head space in that regard?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: I'm not going to put too much emphasis on getting to the free throw line. My game really doesn't draw too many fouls, too much contact. On average, I'm like three, maybe four free throws a game, so to sit here and say I need to be getting to the free throw line five, six times, I don't think gives credit to our team. It will help, but me trying to force contact is just not my game. Just playing within rhythm, playing my game helps me get to the free throw line every now and then. But my game doesn't necessarily say I need to force myself to the free throw line.

Q. The summer of 2019 free agency, you had some options. What were the factors that led you to re-sign with the Bucks?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Knowing I had the chance to compete for a championship, like I am here today. That's the main reason why. The other reason why is just this organization. They believed in me once I got traded here. They gave me an opportunity, gave me a chance. So many things I need to work on to stay here. And they have been honest with me since day one. The main thing is being able to compete, and the last couple years we have been able to compete for a championship. We may not have gotten it. We are here today. Hopefully, we do get it done. As players, that's all you want to do: be able to be financially secure with your family after you're done playing, but also be able to compete.

Q. You guys are 7-1 at home during this run so far. What do you feel like has contributed to the success inside Fiserv Forum?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: I think one is our home crowd, for sure. Having that home court or playing on your home court in the playoffs is a huge key. It's tough to win on the road always and it makes a little bit sweeter to win on road. But having that home court and that home base, home crowd, behind you is huge, just to give you that confidence, that extra burst, that extra energy.

Q. You've had so many games, it seems like, where maybe you're a little bit off in the beginning and then you heat up like that. When you have a whole game the other night where you never kind of get going, do you spend any time looking at maybe what went wrong, or do you just know the next game it's going to be there?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Definitely look at the film, trying to figure out good, bad, ugly, everything. In the first half, I had some shots that just went in and out for me. Sometimes it's like that. Second half, just wasn't able to find a way to get myself going. That's really all it was.

Q. I've heard basketball people talk about how one's level of frustration is sort of inversely related to how much control you have over the outcome. So fans get really frustrated because they can't control anything, coaches are in the middle, and players, you have the next game in your hands, in essence. Where would you put this team's frustration level from what you see and your own to this point?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: You can't get too high, you can't get too low. We have been saying that the whole season, whole playoffs. We have been down 0-2 before. Not saying we can do the same exact thing we did last time. It's going to be tough. That's a great team over there. But we just got to stay the course. Figure out the things that we did wrong. Figure out the things we did do good and continue to do the things we do well and try to expand on that. And then limit the things that we didn't do too well.

Q. On the Suns side of things, they're giving a lot of credit to Bridges for his length, athleticism, commitment to guarding you wherever you're going. What's that matchup been like for you for the first two games of the Finals?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: He's a great defender. He's a great player. He had a hell of a game from them last game. Smart defender. They're a smart team. But I've seen a lot of different coverages -- a lot of different guys on me, small to get up under me, tall and longer so I can see their length. I don't focus on the defenders too much. I know what I can do with different guys. I feel like I have a game that can score many different ways, attack and playmake many different ways, so it's just on me to do those things.

Q. You mentioned before that situation you guys were in against Brooklyn coming back home down 0-2. I know it's obviously a different series, but does that give you guys any extra confidence knowing you've been through this situation before? Or is it kind of a totally separate situation?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: A little bit of both. Game 1 in Brooklyn, I think -- I forgot how much we lost by. Game 2 we got smacked, embarrassed. A lot of people thought our season was done. We still believed in ourselves. We came back and had an ugly grind-it-out game that we found a way to win. Sometimes it's not going to be pretty. Sometimes it's going to be ugly. We just got to find a way to win one game at a time from here on out.

Q. You mentioned the last game, some of them were in and out. There might have been five or six. Have you liked your shots these last two games in terms of where you're getting and how they have looked? Does that mean you kind of want to keep doing that, or is there some adjustment to be made in terms of where you're going and maybe what you're trying to do?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: No, just play within the flow of the offense. Some of our offensive sets, I know where I can get shots. But other than that, just play within the game, not trying to put too much emphasis on saying, I need to get to this spot more, I need to stay away from here. I think that makes you easy to guard. I feel like I'm able to score in a lot of different ways and in a lot of areas. So I'm just playing within the offense, not trying to force things but letting the game come to me.

Q. The last two series you kind of started off slow and Game 3 was kind of the turning point for you individually. What is it that you see that enables you to sort of make those quick adjustments on the fly and have those explosion games?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Just seeing the different coverages and knowing where I can attack sometimes, knowing where I can get to my spots or just drawing a crowd. I can't really describe some of those games where I just got hot. I just found a rhythm and seemed like I couldn't miss a shot. But most nights are not like that, so I just have to be patient and let the game come to me. That's all I can do, for the most part.

Q. One thing I've been wondering about is you got Jae Crowder on the opposite team. He's not someone who is filling up the stat sheet in terms of scoring lots. So what's the scout on a player like that, because he offers a lot of leadership and defense? How does Coach Bud give you anything to prepare for that sort of thing?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: With their guys, just have to be solid. They're a deep team. Chris Paul and Devin Booker, they do a great job of keeping those guys involved and teaching those guys how to play the right way and how to play off those guys by cutting, relocating to the open spot. The best thing thing you can do with those guys is be as solid as you can. You can't disrespect them because they can play. They can shoot, they can score.

Q. You guys have played in Atlanta, you played in Phoenix. How much are you looking forward to playing on your home court finally before your fans here in the NBA Finals?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Yeah, we can't wait. Seems like it's been a month since we have been back in our home building playing. We can't wait to see the crowd tomorrow night, knowing they have been waiting on one of these games -- just like Phoenix was -- for years. I have too. My whole career I've been waiting for a game like this here at home with our fan base behind us. So I'm sure it will be exciting.

Q. You talked about the shots going in and out for you. I took a look, I think three of your first six misses in the first half all were just kind of rattled halfway down, come out. How does that feel to see that happen over and over and over again, especially starting out in the first half?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Yeah, I guess you could say it's a little frustrating, when you feel like they're going in and they just find a way to pop outside of the rim. But you just got to stay with it, have a short memory. That's one thing I've had, especially this year, this playoff run, is I have a short memory with my shots, whether they're going in and out, because you can't make them all. Hopefully I won't miss them all. But just to stay the course, stay confident and keep being aggressive.

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