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July 14, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Game 4: Pregame

Q. In Game 1 you guys had 20 fast break points; Games 2 and 3, I think it's a total of 13. You've talked about stops obviously leading to transition. Is it also a matter of just forcing that and to try to get up tempo more?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think so. Even when they score we’ve had had the ability to get the ball out of the net quick and get down the floor. Now the transition points are based on time, but our pace has to increase and we know that, we’ve talked about it the past couple of days. So, we'll be better at that tonight.

Q. Cam Payne's been such a good player for you guys this year and really consistent, so it's rare to see him playing like this. What do you think he needs to get back to that he hasn't been able to in the last couple games?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Well, he's a part of the scouting report now. That's something that he and Mikal have dealt with. Mikal had 27 the other night and he was a part of the scouting report, and they were hitting him and running him off the line, that kind of thing.

But again I think especially those two guys, when we're able to get stops and get out and run, it frees those guys up. I don't want them thinking at this point. We haven't done that all year. They put the work in and we have a phrase "reps remove doubt." You got to trust the work and get out there and hoop.

Q. You guys have done so well responding after losses all season long and maybe I'm reading too much into this but particularly going from a Game 3 to a Game 4, you guys have been really good. That was in the Lakers series when you kind of turned that around, against the Clippers it helped you build the 3-1 lead. So have you seen anything specific going from a Game 3 situation to a Game 4 situation that's kind of helped you take control of some of those series?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Nothing in particular that is anything different than we have tried to implement all year. We just try to regroup and learn and we have a bunch of sore losers on our team. Our gym and film sessions are pretty intense after losses, as I'm sure the Bucks' are. You don't get to this point and not know how to regroup from a loss. So, I expect the same tonight.

Q. On that note what has Chris been like with the guys after losses?

MONTY WILLIAMS: He's encouraging, for sure. He and I are always talking about things that we can do better, all of us, but with the guys, his leadership has improved in ways from the first time I was with him until now because of his ability to know when to say something and when not to say something, which is really cool to watch. Then they get together after practice, whether it's at the hotel, on the bus, the card game they have, they're talking about the game and I'm sure a lot of stuff comes up in those moments. Sometimes it's best to bring it up later on when the emotions are a bit more balanced.

So I'm sure, I mean, you could ask the other guys better, but that's just what I've seen. He's such a encourager now. Doesn't mean he doesn't tell the truth, but he encourages guys in a way that I didn't see early on or I didn't notice. I'm sure he's always done it, but that's what I notice now.

Q. You talked about pace earlier, but the flip side of that is they have had 16 or more fast break points in all three games, and in terms of half court defensive efficiency you guys are actually holding them pretty well, but how important is your transition defense in just keeping them out --

MONTY WILLIAMS: It's huge and it's not just Giannis, it's all of their guys. I mean first play of the game the other night, we talked about it the other day, like Jrue gets a corner three. We didn't have the heightened awareness in that environment, for sure. We talked about it for two days. They're a pace team as well.

So, one, we have to have efficient offense and balanced offense so we can get guys back. But two, once there's a transition awareness for us, we got to sprint and get back and form the wall and then know it's not just about Giannis. Jrue can push it, Middleton gets out and when Lopez is getting to the corners, that draws your attention away from the rim.

Q. So much work with Deandre since you got to Phoenix, what does this step of his journey, this idea of having to be in so much of the spotlight in these Finals and be the guy who is facing off against the best guy on the other team?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think it's what he's wanted. I think the work that he's put in with Coach Bryant and Coach Ayers and Ben [Sullivan] is starting to pay off for him. I don't think he's worried about the narratives that were out there about him as much as he is about winning. I think that's what he really wants. The thing that I see with DA, his unselfish play, like he has opportunities to score but he's always looking to make the right play. That tells me he's about winning and not just about himself.

But he and Book being guys who have been together for three years, like, this is what they have talked about. I'm not sure they thought they would be in this moment this early, but I know they talked about it a lot. And so if you're going to talk about it, you've got to put the work in and that's what he's done.

Q. With most human beings when you say, hey, don't do this, don't do this, don't do this, then it's in your head, right? So how do you make sure that his mind, when he goes outs on the court tonight isn't just don't foul, don't foul, don't foul?

MONTY WILLIAMS: We haven't talked about it as much as you would think. We talked about ways to prevent that around that environment. Because when you point out the obvious, then you look like a coach and I don't always want to look like that. At the same time, he's aware of it. He's hearing it all over the place, I would imagine, if you're on one of those platforms, Family Face, you know, one of those deals.

I just think it's one of those things that we have to help him in that environment, meaning everybody's got to work on doing their job, so it's not just him playing iso basketball the whole game. We got to get back in transition and form the wall. It's a cliche, but it's the truth.

Q. Given that Giannis has taken his game almost totally to the rim, how do you keep Deandre out of foul trouble?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I haven't figured that out the last two games or at least the last game. But we haven't talked about it because we -- I know the players have talked to him about it. Like I said, we have talked about what we can do around that environment to help. It just boils down to being able to stay in front of the ball with your chest. And that's easier said than done, but at some point you can't look to find an excuse here or there, we have to do that. There were times, when you watch the film, there were times where it wasn't five guys getting back, it was three, sometimes two. And we can't have that. We can't complain about what happened on offense, we got to get back and know that if we do that our half-court defense has been decent.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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