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May 23, 2022

Ime Udoka

Boston Celtics

Game 4: Postgame

Celtics 102, Heat 82

Q. What was the biggest difference you saw in Game 4 in contrast to Game 3? The ones that really stood out the most, the ones that you may have hammered the most in practice leading into this one?

IME UDOKA: First off, taking care of the ball. That was pretty evident in the first half. I think we only had four turnovers, three in the first quarter. So taking care of the ball was huge, obviously, making them score in the half court as opposed to getting the run-outs that we aided them with last game. Our mindset was right coming out, came out the right focus, physicality flipped, and just got to muster that same energy when we came off a win as well as a loss.

Q. We talked about Derrick's aggressiveness coming in and he scores the first seven there. What goes into a start like that? Is it conversations, things he was doing in shootaround, practice? What set him up for that start?

IME UDOKA: Understanding the urgency with Marcus being out and the position he's put in. Obviously starting the game, going to have the ball in his hands a lot more, and wanted him to be confident, aggressive, and he picked his spots well early on. They guard him a certain way. Told him look for the shot but also get downhill and facilitate, and he does that extremely well. Just happened that he got the right looks, took the shots that were there and then started to find the other guys.

We want him to be aggressive at all times. Talked about his jump shot may not be falling but he does so many other things for the team and he did that tonight.

Q. How is he doing? Saw him grabbing at the hamstring there at the end. And Rob coming out and getting the wrap on the knee there?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, he said a little cramping. So Derrick is fine.

Rob is just precautionary, as always, coming off the surgery.

Q. You've known Derrick for a while. Can you just talk a little bit about what his adjustment to this team has been like? Obviously not the easiest thing to switch teams in the middle of the year, and how much as a coach you appreciate the fact that his role might fluctuate from being a very large one, like it was tonight, to certain games maybe it's not what he's used to and what he had in San Antonio but he seems to handle it well either way?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, he's been great. Part-time starter when guys are out, he checks so many boxes for us. Like I said, it's not only things that show up on the stat sheet or the scoring, but he's the guy that moves the ball extremely well, defends extremely well multiple positions, so all those things he does for us, we don't lose a lot with certain guys in or out.

With him it was just a matter of understanding who we are here, the difference from San Antonio where Pop is on him about not fouling, I want us to be a little more aggressive and don't mind taking a foul or two. So he's had to shift his mindset as far as that. I've tried to get him up to speed with what everybody else is doing. It's going to take some time, but couldn't more happy with him being here and what he brings to our team.

Q. After last game Al said that Miami played like a wounded animal, and you guys didn't have a sense of urgency. First play he comes out and strips Bam. How was him bringing that sense of urgency huge for you guys?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, I think for everybody the focus was great tonight. We understood we have to be more aggressive and physical on the defensive end. Bam got it going last game and guys take that personal. So to hold guys, nobody scored in double figures with their starters, I think we obviously set the tone right there. But we have a prideful team, one of the best defensive teams in the league as well as individuals, and they heard some of the things that were said and took pride in those matchups.

So came out with the right mindset but have to duplicate that Game 5 coming off a win as opposed to only when we lose it.

Q. Jayson finished with his most free throws made and attempts the whole postseason tonight. Is that something you preached to him coming into this game, attack the rim more and get to the line more?

IME UDOKA: Just being aggressive. They are really crowding our guys on the perimeter, and said sometimes you're just going to have to break the play and be aggressive and get downhill. Did that from the start. Then they went to smaller lineups where they don't have a lot of rim protection there, so we were really trying to get to the paint, attack. And obviously getting 14 or 16 free throws for him is huge.

But continuing to make the right play. They're going to try to take some charges. If Adebayo is not in the game, there's not a lot of rim protection but still has to make plays for others, and he did that tonight.

Q. The big thing with team is how resilient you guys have been in bounce-back wins. How do you take it from being resilient to being consistent going into the next game?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, understanding what's on the table. This is a three-game series now, and can't always just flip the mindset when we come off a loss and get a little desperate. The guys talked about that in the locker room now, we've obviously been here before, to string some games together and come out with mindset like we did tonight was apparent, the difference we understand we don't want to go down 3-1. So guys came out with that physicality. It was almost like it flipped from what Miami did to us last game, and obviously you saw that in the start.

But understanding it's a long series, a lot of ebbs and flows, but we want to be who we've been all year. It was a physical, aggressive defense, attacking on offense, and not waiting for us to get down to kind of muster up that energy.

Q. You guys only shot like 39 percent, 23 from three, and this game was still never in doubt. How encouraging is it from your standpoint that you guys were able to execute in other parts of the game there and kind of maintain control the whole way?

IME UDOKA: We said that it wasn't our best offensive night, but defensively we were obviously elite tonight for the most part, guarded their three-point shooters very well. Like I mentioned, 18 points from their starters, so we came out with the right focus on that end. And we got room to grow still, and that's the thing with us. We can always rely on our defense. We've won several games this year doing that when our shots aren't falling, and to hold them to in the 30s for basically three quarters, high-level defense, and we can do that even if our shots are not falling. It's just mainly taking care of the ball, not letting them get anything easy and kind of wearing on them mentally.

Q. You mentioned the ebbs and flows of a long series. There's been some wild point differential swings from game to game. To what do you attribute that, and is it anything more than just the team that lost coming out with more aggression in the next game?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, I mean, I would say the urgency from the team that's coming off that loss. Obviously we had some really bad quarters but had been overall consistent before that. We want to be -- it's an inconsistent series from both teams at times, and it's an odd one, honestly, when you look at some of the numbers tonight, the way we didn't shoot or play offense that great and having a 30-point lead.

Did what we did defensively, and now have to do it again. It's been a back-and-forth series even in the same game at times, 39-18 quarter, 39-14 quarter when they really hurt us. So we want to be more consistent overall, move the ball and understand how they're guarding us but maintain our defensive identity that we had all year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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