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July 17, 2021

Mike Budenholzer

Milwaukee Bucks

Game 5 Postgame

Milwaukee Bucks 123, Phoenix Suns 119

Q. Take us through that sequence. Jrue gets a steal but then the alley-oop with the shot clock off.

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: I think it was a big play, and then the steal late. It was just an instinctive play. He's an incredible defender, strong hands and got in there and took it. I think most times you just want to pull it out and run the clock. But Jrue and Giannis in a two-on-one, just to put to put two points on the board. I think just trusting their instincts, trusting them. Giannis getting a bucket and putting us up (three points). They're playing, they're competing. That's what we need.

Q. Obviously when you got Jrue you knew what kind of defender he was, but this is 40 minutes a night, Paul and Booker. What have you seen in this series especially it didn't start out well but but now he's found a groove?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: His ability to impact the ball, just make everybody uncomfortable. You never know when he might get a steal, get a deflection. I think it all just adds up. He had a huge stretch there. I think his stretch was maybe the third quarter. All three of the guys, Giannis, Khris, Jrue, all making plays defensively, stepping up offensively. But yeah, Jrue's impact defensively is a big part of the reason why he's such a good fit with us.

Q. Going back to that steal, it was a pretty risky play, Booker is doubled in the paint and Jrue is coming off his man. Is that a situation you go over normally? You mentioned it was an instinctive play. Is that a situation you've gone over in the past? Making the gamble for that kind of steal?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: No. I think again, just trusting their instincts. He can cover a lot of ground both directions. I thought there was a good crowd. There was a lot of activity around Booker. So it's one of those things. That's the game. That's the way the game is played. If Booker kicks it and they make a shot, then we might feel differently. But you know, players have to make plays, and Jrue made a huge play there. I think that's what we want from our guys.

Q. Obviously the game tightened a lot in the last two minutes after you had that big lead. At any point do you have a conversations with the guys about keeping their composure in that moment and not getting caught up in the run?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: I think they have been in a lot of close games. It's a very mature group. There's a lot of confidence. I think there's a natural poise with the group. We don't necessarily talk about it, but you can feel it in the huddles.

Q. You've been waiting for Jrue to have a game like that offensively, and start of the second quarter when you had that group in there without Giannis, what did you see that allowed everybody to get going and in particular his play to get you guys back in the game?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Yeah, I thought there was a couple stops and he was able to get to some good spots. Brook and Bobby screening for him in transition. It starts with our defense. I thought that group played really well defensively. Connaughton hit some big threes in that stretch.

They made every shot in the first quarter. We felt like it could balance out. But to start the (second quarter) with Giannis out and Brook and Bobby as our bigs and Jrue just to get going, I think it's just the screening on the ball, him attacking. That's usually what creates it for us.

Q. The Suns came out blazingly hot. Did you or one of the players say something to turn the tide before the second quarter?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: No, but we did just kind of acknowledge, they have shot it incredibly well. If you've been in a lot of basketball games, those things can kind of even out. And if they could keep shooting it at that clip, it was going to be a tough night. But we felt like defensively we could get better and we would limit them a little bit more. And then offensively, if we're getting stops, that's when we're at our best.

There's a moment where -- they played well. You acknowledge it and say, there's a lot of time left, there's a lot of clock; let's just start getting stops and playing.

Q. You had an ultra big lineup on at times with Middleton at point. What did you guys see to get that lineup on the floor tonight?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: The first quarter, they threw a big punch. A little bit of foul trouble for Jrue, so I think our substitutions got just a little bit kind of off. Giving Jrue a little bit of a break with a second foul. Giannis played the whole first quarter. And so then, as we talked about a second ago, we rested Giannis, and then it was time to give Jrue a little bit of a break. He's doing so much defensively and Giannis and Khris are such great ball handlers, we just decided to let it roll with those two guys just handling the ball while Jrue just took a quick break mid-second quarter or whenever it was we had that group out there.

Q. In the second quarter, you got on an 11-3 run and Monty calls timeout. I imagine keeping Giannis on the bench is not the first thing. Did you have to fight that because how well that group was going?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: That group had a good run. To let them go, and to know what we need from Giannis at the end of the game -- if you can steal some stretches where the team is playing well and he gets a break, that's important for us to find. You're never sure, but hopefully we can keep that momentum. And we can send them to the table quickly.

But that group just continued to play well. I felt like he sat at the table for quite a while and we kind of continued the run, so he got an even longer break.

Q. You would have to win one here to win an NBA championship. Now going home 3-2, can you speak to what that means and obviously what setup you have with a couple days off to do that?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Going home to our fans, going home to Milwaukee is a great opportunity for us. But you have to go out and play. It's at this point, you could feel it tonight, the high-level basketball on both sides of it. It's going to be the same in Game 6. Both teams are going to come out, expect really, really good basketball. We're going to have to compete defensively and we're going to have to make plays, play together. It's more about that. But to be going home to our fans, Fiserv has been rocking. It's been huge for us, and we're excited about our opportunity in Game 6.

Q. You talk about it a lot but Giannis's ability to stay in the moment and when you're missing free throws and the crowd is getting after you, to not lose the aggression, and he misses those two late, he's running the floor and Jrue finds him for the oop. He seems to be in his place where the outside stuff, even if he's falling short, doesn't get to him. How incredibly important is that?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Yeah, I think he's just a great competitor. He wants to do anything to win, and he's not worried about the noise or worried about -- he is so incredibly focused on winning and making plays for his teammates and delivering.

He's really worked on all of that, kind of the mental side, and staying in a good place. I think a couple of free throws, they were good. They felt good, looked good. We keep saying it: The more he get to the line, the better. We love it when he gets there. He's going to make a bunch of them, and we believe in them and we just believe in the competitor. He's going to make plays that will help us win.

Q. I was going to speak to composure, as well. First quarter you had seven turnovers. Then the ball handlers handled the double team. What did you see from your guys to handle that double and handle that?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: The aggressiveness for them coming out of the gate, they were up and in and they were trying to make it difficult. There's things we have to do: Khris, we have to screen for him, Giannis screen, Jrue attack. I think they got into a better understanding about what we need, to play some handoffs and different things like that. They understood it and they felt it after the first quarter and I think they executed well.

Q. When you think about the opportunity that you guys have in front of you, what this means to the city of Milwaukee, what did you take advantage of in the moment, when you think about what this means to this city and this team, what are you looking forward to about the moment?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: We've just got to go play Game 6. It's a great opportunity to go home. We'll keep our routines. We'll prepare. We'll get ready. You just have to go play basketball. You have to find a way to win a game. The fact that we're home and we have the support of our fans, the support of our city, it's important. It's going to be meaningful.

But you have to go make plays. You have to make things happen defensively, make things happen offensively. Our guys, I think they will be ready to do that.

Q. How much do you think the experience you guys have in the past two years in these playoffs helped you make it to this point where you are one win away from the championship?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Every team has a different journey. Players have different journeys. So I certainly feel like what we've been through this playoffs. Every team that advances, you feel like you're better because of the competition you just went through.

And what we have been through the last couple two, three years, it's prepared us to be in this moment and play and execute both ends of the court. So I think it's just part of our journey, and we've still got a ways to go.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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