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May 19, 2022

Ime Udoka

Boston Celtics

Game 2: Postgame

Celtics 127, Heat 102

Q. Ime, you said coming into this series that you'd be ready for the zone. Felt like you guys jumped right on it when the Heat went to it. You had the sets ready to go. What do you think led to so much success? Was it the preparation and video you watched?

IME UDOKA: We knew they were a team that runs quite a bit of zone. Didn't get to it in the first game. Not surprised but they're upped their physicality and didn't need to get into it. Tonight they've tried it and we've had some good sets and success against it later in the season, being that we saw it quite a bit early in the season. So we were ready for that.

Q. Ime, how did you like your team's response tonight, and how good was it to have Marcus and Al back in the lineup with you?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, it was great to have the vets back. Obviously a calming presence there. Didn't get off to a best start, obviously a little slow at the start but fought right back into it and after the first five, six minutes we held them down scoring-wise, but it was a good overall effort, bounce back.

I felt we didn't play as poorly as last game showed. Like I said, we won three quarters and had a very bad third quarter that was hard to overcome, but we saw a lot of positives and areas we could attack, so it helped to have those two back for sure.

Q. Ime, tonight you guys, according to Second Spectrum tracking data, switched on 33 pick-and-rolls, allowed 15 points, caused two turnovers. Obviously Al Horford and Marcus Smart makes a significant difference in your ability to switch. What's your reaction to hearing those type of numbers going in with the game plan that you had with the willingness to switch?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, that's what we've done all year to some extent, one of the better switching teams that we've switched a lot and having certain defenders back certainly helped that, aided that tonight. We saw Herro get downhill a little bit too much, Butler as well last game and wanted to have bodies in front of bodies, and what we showed them at halftime was good physicality, good pickup points and good attention to detail on certain guys, aggressive reads, aggressive switches, and they pretty much saw a body every time they came off and didn't get a lot of clean shots, so we're happy with what we did tonight.

Q. Ime, why do you think your team is so good coming off of losses?

IME UDOKA: I think we were upset with how that third quarter went and specifically how we got out-toughed. It wasn't a lot of, like I said, schemes or defensive or offensive changes. They just came out and punked us that third quarter. We looked at the three quarters and how well we had done winning those quarters, and knew if we just matched their physicality we could be better.

Kind of reminded us of Milwaukee the first game a little bit and didn't want to get caught off guard again, but shouldn't take one of those and the opportunity that we had, but I think our guys have bounced back really well all year, especially in the second half of the year. Haven't lost a lot of two games in a row in a while, and I think obviously adding Marcus and Al back gave us a little boost as far as that.

But guys have pride and looked at a golden opportunity that we kind of lost and thought we could do much better, and did that tonight.

Q. The game really turned around in the first quarter when you went to Grant in that four-out lineup, kept him in the rest of the first half. What did you see working there and why was it able to be so successful the rest of the game?

IME UDOKA: Spaced the floor well. We got to attack some match-ups that we wanted to and space out Adebayo and Tucker and some of those guys. Obviously with Rob in there, he has his things that he does well but he has some limitations as well as far as spacing the court. We saw success against Milwaukee and Brooklyn doing that with Al and Grant lineups where they can space it out and we can attack multiple ways. So create a lot of open shots, a lot of open threes and he got going but also opened up the lanes for our drivers.

Q. I feel like it's been a while since we've heard you say you got punked. We heard that a lot earlier the first half of the season. What did you say to the team after, how did you challenge them? Grant was saying before that you weren't afraid to challenge them. How did that work tonight?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, it was evident after the Game 1, that third quarter, 39-14, eight of our 16 turnovers, them getting a lot of offensive rebounds and Butler getting to the free-throw line. It was pretty evident that they were the more physical, aggressive team, and we said, let's look at the three quarters and be optimistic about what we did there.

If a team is just going to come out and out-hustle you, like I said, there wasn't a lot of things schematically that they did different. We could match that intensity. We pride ourselves on being one of the tougher teams, so we knew if we matched that we'd be in good shape tonight. Not much needed to be said. Everybody saw it.

Q. Marcus Smart almost had a triple-double tonight but even beyond the box score, how can you describe what he gave you guys?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, as always he sets the tone. Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. Ability to switch and switch on to bigger bodies and just another good defender to throw at Butler, Adebayo, some of those guys and not have to worry about them trying to pick on certain matchups. So he brings the physicality every night, kind of gets everybody else in line and adding Al back there, as well, is another versatile guy. Wasn't surprising to see how well we guarded with our guys back.

Q. After Strus hit that three with Robert kind of too far from him, you immediately called a time-out, it was 18-8. What did you say in that time-out obviously without the four-letter words, but what did you say and how did that change the game, that sequence?

IME UDOKA: Just wake up. We were slow to react for the first few shots, switching too low on their shooters, and that's something we didn't do a great job of last game. We understand who they are and who their scorers are and who their shooters are and how we need to switch accordingly and according to their personnel. Just a simple message that we need to wake up and react a little bit quicker. Al gave up one, as well, and Jaylen was too low on one, so cleaned that up pretty quickly and finished off the quarter well.

Q. Going back to Marcus and actually kind of going into the box score, he had the five threes, he had a couple key steals there in the third and then all the assists. When you look at those numbers, what are you most impressed by in terms of him and coming off this injury?

IME UDOKA: I always look at his assists and turnovers. He's had quite a few, like tonight a 12 and 1 turnover game, kind of dictating everything out there and getting us into things. Like I said, I'm not the type of coach that wants to call a play every time down; I leave it his hands and he usually makes the right decision, understands who to get going and who's hot, who the hot guys are and he did a great job of that tonight, playing against the close-outs. They're a heavy load team that flies out on shooters, and he did a great job driving, making the extra pass and getting guys easy shots.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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