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July 20, 2021

Mike Budenholzer

Milwaukee Bucks

Game 6 Postgame

Milwaukee Bucks 105, Phoenix Suns 98

Q. When you started this year, however many, 14 new players, changed the offense, did a lot of things defensively, out of your comfort zone a little bit. As you sit here and that clock winds down, I guess can you speak to how you feel about that, how the effort you and your staff and the team put in to get here?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: I definitely will answer that question. I will again take a second to acknowledge the Phoenix Suns. Their players, amazing players led by Devin Booker, Chris Paul. Their whole roster. Amazing coach, Monty Williams. The entire organization. So much respect for them as competitors. I just have so much respect for Monty and his team.

You know, I think it's just a credit to the players. We've been pushing and trying to get better. The players embrace everything. They are amazingly coachable. They take it and soak it in and they have made the best of it. They have done that from day one this year. So I'm happy for the players. I'm impressed by them every day.

Q. As you've tried to put this puzzle together, this is a three-year process of, all right, first let's install all the stuff we want to do, let's tweak it and make some changes. What does that process feel like, the constant tinkering and tweaking to get to this spot?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Yeah, it's basketball. It's playing. It's coaching. The game is always evolving and changing. We've been close and we keep pushing and trying to get better. The players, that's just one of our mantras is to get better, and I think the entire organization embraces it. What Jon Horst has done to put together a team, he's the greatest GM in the league. I'm a little bit biased, but to be his partner, for him to go out and get Jrue Holiday, to have the guts to make that (trade), to recruit guys, to get P.J. Tucker midseason, Bobby Portis in the offseason. Stick with Khris, Giannis and Brook and Pat and these guys, and you go up and down the roster, Jon has done an amazing job. Ownership, Marc Lasry, Wes Edens, Jamie Dinan, Mike Fascitelli, they give us what we need. We keep pushing. We try to get better as coaches, players, and here we are tonight. It's special.

Q. Throughout your tenure you have not been afraid to use the word "love" with your team and your coaches and everyone. There's two hugs I'd like to know about.

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: You won't get to know about them, but go ahead.

Q. Giannis lifting you up into the air. Second time he's gotten a chance to do that. And you and Giannis and Khris having a moment together, and whether or not you want to tell me about the hug, the partnership and what that's meant.

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Darvin (Ham) and the coaches -- Darvin has been with me since the first day I was a head coach. Some of these guys have been with me for seven years, and then we have new guys that have come in. Those coaches, they do all the work. Every day what they do, before practice, in the coaches' meetings, ideas, thoughts, concepts. I love those guys, no doubt about it. The staff, I think it's part of what makes coaching special is having assistant coaches and a staff that you can laugh with, you can cry with, you can work with, you can debate with or fight --sometimes we fight.

And then Giannis and Khris, it's special for me to get the opportunity to coach those two guys. The leadership they have shown since day one, from having breakfast together, you can see their desire to be great and their desire to push this organization to where we are tonight.

To embrace those guys, and I love them. I love the players, I love the roster, I love the team. I'm incredibly fortunate to be where I am and just to be a small part of what's happening tonight.

Q. Giannis' game, particularly from the free throw line, defensively, have you run out of things to say about him?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Yeah, I just say, come on up, take over, I don't want to do anymore media. This is not my thing (laughing). No, it's hard to find more words to describe what Giannis does. But the way he made his free throws, the way he did everything, stepped up, the poise, the confidence, the leadership. He has been working on it. We say we want Giannis to get to the free throw line. We believe. We talked about it this past summer. To win a championship, you've got to make free throws and you've got to make shots. He's made shots throughout the playoffs. He's made free throws throughout the playoffs. (Five) blocked shots, however many points. He's of the charts. He's the MVP of the NBA Finals.

Q. Was there any time when the series probably swung in your favor or was it just this game?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Every game takes on its own personality, but to come home and win Game 3 when you're down 2-0, you have to win the third, and to win the fourth. Go to Phoenix and win on the road set us up tonight to close it out here in front of the fans. Every game is big when you get to this stage.

Q. You guys are down seven at halftime, Giannis comes out and single-handedly changed the game. Was there any conversations at halftime to set the tone in the third quarter?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Mostly in halftime we were talking about defense. We had 47 points against us and we think we can be better. But I think he embraces us being great defensively. Giannis does, the whole team. When we get stops and get out and run and get Giannis in space, get our team in space, I think he's special. He was able to put his stamp on the game in the third quarter and flip the score. And then some big plays in the fourth quarter -- big plays, big blocks. It's hard to keep finding words for Giannis.

Hard to talk about him while he's in the room, so I think he should come up here.

Q. I know you mentioned a couple things, but did you find things after Game 2 that really did change the tone of the series?

MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Well, we just felt like we played better in Game 2. Game 1, we were not very good. You have to look at yourself. You have to be honest. We went into Game 2 and we still felt like we were able to get over the hump and we were getting better and learned some things defensively. This group loves to take the challenge. They watched the film and got better, and from 2 to 3 we got better and 3 to 4 and through tonight. It's been great to watch and witness what this team does when they are challenged.

Thank you, guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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