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July 10, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Practice Day

Q. Torrey Craig, obviously out with the knee injury. A, his status; and B, you're already short with Dario, now you have him. How do you move forward as far as your rotations and things of that sort?

MONTY WILLIAMS: We'll find out more. He got some testing done yesterday. All of that came back clean, but he's still sore. So I can't make much of a statement on his availability or anything like that. We're going to get through today. We'll have a light practice today and put him through some paces. We'll be able to make a better statement about his availability tomorrow, and then we'll adjust accordingly. We have guys that can play more minutes. Cam Johnson didn't get a ton of minutes the other night. He can play more. And then you have Abdel. He can play in those minutes. So it's still something we're assessing, but his testing did come back favorably.

Q. We have had two days between games now. Change of city, change of arena. As much as the Bucks might want to feel that this is sort of reset on the series, what can you and your guys do to make sure you've got continuity and that the things that you had in Games 1 and 2 are still there and can be tapped into?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I'm not going to talk about too much, strategically and tactically. But for us, I think the thing that's been consistent is the culture pieces that we try to implement every day, and keep our day the same on the road, at home. We have been a work team all year for two years since we have been in Phoenix. That's been something that has helped our program and our young guys approach the game a certain way. And so we're going to have our film session today. We're going to have a mental workout. We're going to walk through things that we need to. We're going to get our work in. And we have enough veteran leadership on our team to help our guys with the differences between playoff home and playoff road. Other than that, we try not to overthink it too much. We think that helps our guys a ton.

Q. Are those the habits that you think are behind your team's road record? The best in the league this year.

MONTY WILLIAMS: I don't know. I hope so. I mean, I'm sure it's also the play of our guys, and certainly having a guy like Chris Paul and having him and Book in certain situations down the stretch, being able to allow those guys to orchestrate a lot of the situations that we're in, and then defensively having continuity and having certain guys, DA, Jae, Mikal, I think all of the stuff helps you. But I hadn't really had a chance to dive into the road portion, trying to figure out why. We just try to do what we think is necessary to help us in those situations.

Q. I want to take you a bit of a trip down memory lane and start with some trivia. You once played on a team where you were one of four future head coaches. Do you think you can name the other guys?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I played with Doc (Rivers) and Avery (Johnson) in San Antonio. And Vinny Del Negro.

Q. You were, I think, Devin's age at that time, 24 years old. Did that shape you at all? And when you're in a locker room with guys who end up being head coaches, do you pick up on characteristics or tendencies that they have that make you see like, oh, that guy could be on the sidelines, like Bob Hill is?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, not in reference to myself, though, because I was probably the last guy that they would have thought was going to be a head coach. You could see it on Avery. You could see it on Doc. Vinny had a high basketball IQ. Chuck Person was off the charts. Will Perdue. I probably didn't fit that group. So if I was looking for somebody, it would be like Cam Payne -- someone that just goes out there and hoops and doesn't really strike you as someone that's going to be a head coach someday. It could be him, because that's probably who I was most like. I didn't really fit any of those paradigms that you would look at to say, That guy's going to be in a position to be a head coach someday.

Q. At what stage of your career did you start seeing that as a possibility?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Doc told me when I was in Orlando that I would coach. I just thought he was just talking and nuts. When I was done playing, Pop opened the door and invited me to be around the team. I looked up to him in a way that he probably can't even imagine. I realized that that was someone I respected, someone I wanted to emulate. And I loved the gym. That was the only thing I knew. My whole life, I've been in the gym. I was just in the gym with them every day taking notes.

I had to learn how to navigate an NBA day as a coach, because as a player, back then you had like a four-hour or five-hour day as a player, and then you go home. As a coach, it's a much longer day, and then you go home and it's a much longer night. I had guys, like Brett Brown, and P.J. (Carlesimo) was huge for me. Donnie Newman. Bud (Mike Budenholzer) was in San Antonio. I was watching all those guys. I had no idea what to do, and they allowed me to just come take notes and watch. I would just go home, and they probably thought I was weird because I didn't say a lot. I just didn't know what an NBA day looked like as a coach because as a player it's totally different.

Q. When you talked about Chris and Book and those early days and kind of figuring things out together, you've used the word sacrifice to describe kind of what they have had to do. As an outsider you look at their numbers and you say, okay, they're putting up the most points the backcourt's had in the first two NBA Finals games ever. But what are maybe some of the subtle sacrifices that they have had to make throughout the season that maybe we don't notice that have helped complement each other but have also helped the team?

MONTY WILLIAMS: It's hard to say. I'm sure that they could probably shoot more than they do. Their sacrifice has allowed Mikal and Cam Johnson to elevate their careers. It certainly has helped DA. When you look at Chris and Book, they see so many defenses and they don't force the issue. That's the one thing I've noticed with those guys. Very rarely do they wave somebody out of their way, meaning their own teammate. They just make the next right play. I think that's one sacrifice.

And two, I think they both came into this thing willingly thinking, I may have to share some of the whatever that is -- shine, whatever. I think they both came into it knowing that they may have to do that, and it's helped our team. I don't think they had to share it with each other as much as they have had to share with it Mikal and DA and some of our guys who have elevated their games this year.

Q. Speaking of Pop and San Antonio, the Olympic team plays its first exhibition game tonight. From your time on the staff, what's the challenge like for the NBA coaches, not having series, going to win one game, the next, one? I know it's natural for Coach K, obviously, but does it take away from some of Pop's greatness as a coach to not be able to say we saw what they did in Game 1 and now we're going to adjust to it in Game 2?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I don't think so because I think they go into it knowing what the situation is. And there's a vast history of Olympic reference points, even in losses, where we know this possession, this game could be it. So I don't think it's that hard. I think it may be harder for the players because they go, a lot of them go from a playoff, or have gone from a playoff series right into Olympic play. But even those guys, Kevin (Durant) has been in that situation before, a number of the guys, Kevin Love. They have all been there. So I think that's why continuity in the program is important because the guys who have been there know this possession, this run in the game, could change the outcome.

I just go back to our game against Serbia (in the 2016 Olympics), where I think it was Bogan Bogdanovic had a shot to send it to overtime and we were able to (laughing) -- that shot was on line. It was just short. The next day we came into a film session and we had a really tough film session that day. Our guys, from that point on, understood that one shot like that can change the whole thing. From there on, we dominated. So I don't think it will be tough for our guys to understand that. I think it's important to have exhibition games against different teams because that's what you're going to see. You're typically not going to see the same team over and over again unless you're playing in your pool and one of your pool teams makes it to the medal round. But I don't think they will have a problem with that. I think we have a history and enough history to know that everything counts.

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