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July 10, 2021

Devin Booker

Phoenix Suns

Practice Day

Q. Monty and maybe you mentioned it after Game 2 that you want to try to look at this game as 0-0 and put yourself in the urgent mindset. Obviously you guys were up 3-1 in the Clippers series going into Game 5. Does that inform at all how you can actually -- maybe something you didn't do that game that you can drum up for Game 3?

DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah, I think there were some games in the previous series where we didn't bring it. Simple as that. And not on the make-or-miss didn't bring it; just from the energy standpoint, energy and effort. I think since that game we have picked it up in that regard. We understand we can't control if we make or miss shots, but the 50/50 balls and the intensity throughout the team can always have another level.

Q. I'm going to put you in the time machine to go back to when you were in Mississippi and going to watch Chris play in New Orleans. Do you have a favorite memory from a game watching him as a fan, and maybe what initially made you a fan of his where you were wearing his shoes in high school and all that stuff?

DEVIN BOOKER: I was always a fan of his before that, before I got to see him live. But every time he hit a three down there in New Orleans when they used to do the "CP, 3." So that used to have me hyped, for sure. Yeah, some really good times.

Q. I wanted to ask about when you look at the Bucks and Holiday and Middleton, what have you guys done well against them defensively? Is it a matter of making them work for their looks? What thing do you feel like you guys have done well against those two?

DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah, that's all you can do. Players of that talent and that caliber that score the ball as they do, you can just try to make it hard on them. It's not a one-person assignment. Even if Mikal or Jae is the guy starting on them, it has to be communicated throughout the team. Half the game is ball screens and switching out, so everybody has to be locked in. I would say just -- I always talk about it, but communication amongst each other and being honest with each other and not trying to make the same mistake twice, because those guys will make you pay.

Q. I remember earlier when I first started covering the team, there was this question of your defense and you were saying, Look, it's a five-man deal here. It's not just a one-player deal. Now you're being praised for your competitiveness on that end. Maybe just speak to how, not necessarily how the narrative changed, but just how you're embracing that end maybe more than you did earlier in your career. Maybe you did earlier in your career and it wasn't noticed.

DEVIN BOOKER: That's what I was about to say. I've never enjoyed getting scored on. But you get to the NBA and there's different coverages for different teams. There's different schemes. And what I just said about our team, everybody has to be on the same page. Whether one person is off or a step behind, it can put you in different rotations that you're not supposed to be in. So just understanding that, as a team, we try to communicate amongst each other, and when you're going against dynamic scorers and guarding people, you want to use all five guys.

Q. I know it sounds simple, but you make your free throws, you don't turn the ball over, you don't beat yourselves. Those are usually characteristics of like an older, veteran team. For you guys to be so young, do you feel more mature compared to maybe years before? Where you know you're not going to beat yourself on a nightly basis?

DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah, I think we have played well down the stretch, especially during the playoffs. But we had some learning curves, for sure. We had some talks amongst the team and being better in those last five minutes, those last two minutes. Obviously, you want to play great every possession, but when it's time to lock in and not make any more silly mistakes, you want to be locked in as much as possible. Starting with Coach Monty and guys like Chris, they stress the details of the game throughout the whole season. Whether we're up 20, down a lot in a game, we're still stressing the details of the game. I think we have seen a lot of different situations.

Q. What are the reasons you see for why your group travels so well, better than any other team? You have the best road record.

DEVIN BOOKER: I'd say we have a close team. I feel a lot of teams can say that. We spend a lot of time together. We get our laughs in together, for sure, daily. I don't know. There's a feeling about it. We enjoy playing on the road, and I think that brings our team together even more. I know we spent a lot of time, a lot of our free time this year, especially with the COVID protocols, spending time together. Not with our families on the road, just somebody hosting. We're playing cards. We have 10, 12 guys in the room at a time.

Q. I was talking to Brook Lopez a little bit and then Chris a little bit about the idea of thinking the game, that in the first quarter you pick something up and say, like, oh, okay if I do that again, they're going to do this. What do you feel like you've kind of learned with Chris around in doing that? And maybe you're not going to use it right away but you're going to remember it down the road.

DEVIN BOOKER: I think it's the highest level of basketball and, for me, it's been a new experience. It's been a joy to be a part of it and dissecting the game and doctoring the game in that regard. But all great teams make adjustments, and at this level that's what's going to happen. So if you think you get an easy look or you think you're going to get away with something for over a quarter or over a possession, it's not going to happen. Teams are going to adjust to it, and you have to know how to make an adjustment to their adjustment.

Q. Was there a time where Chris picked up on something and you were like, How do you remember that? Or anything like that?

DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah. I mean, that happens all the time. I just told a story last interview, like watching film with him also, he will call something out that was so far away from the ball or what happened. He's going to make sure he gets right back to it. He's going to rewind it, no matter if it was a minute, two minutes ago in the game, and stress it. So those are the details that I'm talking about that we have learned can make or break a game for you, and in this time of the year, you need every game you can get.

Q. We saw Julius Randle recall the story in The Players' Tribune how Kobe would head to a gym any time he arrived to a city on the road, no matter what time. When you think about the extra work you put in that you get praised for, when it comes to your work ethic and what the cameras don't see, what are the times that you think about?

DEVIN BOOKER: Most of my life, to be completely honest. I don't really do too many cameras in my workout or feel the need to portray it to the world when I'm working and when I'm getting in the gym. Just understanding that you can't cheat yourself. You can't cheat the steps to get to where we're at today and what we're competing for. A lot of it goes unseen, but once you make it to a level, you're going to have to perform and it will tell then.

Q. You guys kind of talked about after winning Game 1 that you knew the Bucks were going to come out strong in Game 2. I would imagine that's going to be amplified for this game, considering that now you guys are in Milwaukee. How important is it to kind of weather that storm early, or do you come out with the mindset of you try to hit 'em early?

DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah, it's the Finals. We're playing for the prize. I don't think there's going to be a storm that we haven't seen. Those guys are bringing it, we're going to bring it and that's that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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