July 14, 2021
Game 4: Pregame
Q. So often when we talk about Giannis and Khris, we talk about their connection emotionally. But curious on the court, it feels like you have tried to keep Khris close to Giannis as much as possible, just to help out with spacing. What does that do, to keep him in the same area as Giannis?
MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Khris is just an elite shooter. I think any team, it's probably pretty simple: just keeping good shooting around Giannis. At the end of the day, Khris is elite. And then they also can get into two-man games, pick-and-rolls, DHOs, different things like that.
The good thing is Giannis is playing with everybody. I think the comfort level, going to different directions, going to different people is good. But the connection with he and Khris, there's a big-time comfort there.
Q. Pat gets a lot of credit for the things he does off the box score, but how important has his shooting been with him maybe looking for some shots and being available in the dunker area, considering the minutes he's playing?
MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Yeah, I think it's critical. I think his readiness, his preparation before the ball gets there, his hands, his feet, the space that he plays with, it all is important to him individually and for us as a team to execute. Then you talked about the different places on the court where he can work and get to and has a comfort level. I think he's helping us in lots of different ways. Sometimes it is a made three or a couple made threes or a score around the basket or an offensive rebound put-back and assists.
Sometimes he just does things that I think his teammates, coaches, appreciate that don't show up. So he's important.
Q. Looking at Brook, obviously the minutes can fluctuate depending on what's happening, but what's the guarantee you feel like you'll get from him regardless of how many minutes he plays?
MIKE BUDENHOLZER: I think the presence he gives us defensively, the voice, the confidence. I think everybody on the team, the confidence when Brook is out there in so many different situations is really high. He's always going to do whatever it takes to help us get stops.
And then offensively, I think the spacing he gives us, the three-point shooting and then he mixes in the offensive rebounding, the pick-and-roll game with he and Khris, rolling to the basket. He's just versatile. He gives us lots of good stuff, and however many minutes he gets, I think he's ready to do whatever it takes.
Q. This part of the series, between Game 2 and Game 4, has been pretty well spaced out. Have you got any word if Giannis has made any kind of improvement from wherever he was at before, or is wherever he is at going to be where he is until the season ends?
MIKE BUDENHOLZER: I think generally speaking Giannis is in a good place, and I think generally he's getting a little bit better with the passing of time. I think he's feeling good. He's moving well. I don't really put percentages and all that stuff on it. But to say that he's getting a little bit better each day I think is a fair thing. I think that will continue as we go forward.
Q. Earlier in the series when we asked Giannis about your father being a high school coach, he lit up a little bit and he got a kick out of that. You two have been doing this for a minute now. Just from a human standpoint, how has that relationship with Giannis developed and how would you characterize it now, and what does that connection mean to you?
MIKE BUDENHOLZER: I think that's probably the most important thing, where it starts. There's so many great things about him as a human being. Just getting to know him and his family and his mother and his brothers -- and how he's a father, watching him go through that.
Yeah, the stuff away from the court, it's actually probably what it's really all about. I've just enjoyed watching him grow and mature as a man and as a leader. Yeah, he's pretty incredible in all ways.
Q. Speaking about Game 4, what do you think will make the difference for you guys?
MIKE BUDENHOLZER: I think there's things that we have to carry over from the third game. We've talked about transition defense, really, probably the first day of training camp, every regular-season game. The players are probably tired of hearing it.
I think Phoenix is very good in transition. We have to continue to limit that. The free throw line is something we talk about all the time. Paul and Booker are creative and clever getting to the free throw line.
Can we be active, make things difficult on Paul and Booker, and still contest and make shots hard, whether it be for those two or for the guys with them.
Then offensively, I think we've just got to play together, play random, play fast. Be in aggressive mode, attack mode. We talk about just playing good basketball. Both teams, they just have to figure out a way to play their best basketball. That's what we've got to do tonight.
Q. Over the last couple games with the performances that Giannis has had, he's had comparable numbers to Shaq. While they have some similarities, they are also very different. Can you speak to what makes Giannis a once-in-a-lifetime type of player?
MIKE BUDENHOLZER: I think with his size, his speed, his strength, his ball handling, to play in the open court, to play as fast and as attacking with vision, the ability to get into the paint and finish and the ability to get into the paint and find shooters I think is unique.
The way he's grown defensively, his ability to guard at the perimeter, guard at the three-point line, block shots at the rim, rebound. He's incredible. Incredibly talented. I think he's growing and getting better.
There's just so many things. I think his ability in the post now, to get to shots and get to shots on the elbows. Just playing as a screener in pick-and-roll and playing as the ball handler in pick-and-roll. He's just a very, very gifted, unique talent. It's just like I said, he's getting better and better, and that's the exciting part for him, for us.
Q. You were mentioning the words growth and leadership. I would like to ask you, how would you describe your team's attitude and the determination throughout this series against the Suns? And what did you enjoy the most so far from your guys' performance, for instance, Giannis or Khris or Brook?
MIKE BUDENHOLZER: I think the mindset is good. I think there's a lot of leadership in the locker room. You have to be able to win a game and prepare and get ready and understand what it takes. Sometimes you don't win and you've got to look and grow from that. You've always got to be ready for the next game. I think the locker room maturity-wise, mentally understands that. I'm a coach, so I don't know what the best moment is. It's to come, hopefully.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports