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May 25, 2022

Ime Udoka

Boston Celtics

Game 5: Pregame

Q. Ime, we know that Marcus and Robert are going to give it a go tonight. With Marcus, you were telling us that he's still swollen and still sore. How do you expect him to move tonight?

IME UDOKA: Good enough. He tested it, and it feels better as the day went on. Did a little bit in shootaround and just some pregame now. He has enough movement where he's not restricted in certain areas as he was a few days ago, and so it's going to be some swelling and some pain, but he's a guy that can play through some things, and we left it up to him as far as how confident he is with his feelings on the court, and he's good to go.

Not like we have to monitor anything, but we'll take a look at him early, see how he's feeling, and give us some feedback and go from there.

Q. Robert Williams really looks like he's been making a positive impact in the series. What are you seeing from him that you like that may be a little bit different than what he's done in the regular season?

IME UDOKA: A lot of the same things. Just his consistency on both ends, the threat that it gives us, vertical threat at the rim, five offensive rebounds the last game, so those extra possessions that we lack without him there, and then defensively a deterrent that guys are constantly looking for. So those consistencies I'd say are just being efficient, as well. Played low minutes in two of the four games and has been really efficient in what he's been doing scoring wise, rebounding, and just shots overall. He brings a different dimension to us defensively, and I think that's impacted Miami to some extent.

Q. Same thing with Rob; is there any minutes limit or restriction on him or is he okay to go?

IME UDOKA: He's good. No restrictions. Like I said, we're being a little conscious of it at times, and we do like certain matchups and lineups and rotations for him to play against and with, so that plays into it some, but any chance we can get to shave down his minutes, we will. Big blowout games obviously help in that regard.

Q. You said this morning, I think you used the word "alarming" for the guys across the board that have been questionable or in and out of the series. How good does it feel going into a massive game to finally have your whole complement of guys ready to go for the next guy?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, it's always beneficial. When they're out, others have to step up, but to have those guys, even if it is shaved-down minutes from their natural rotations and minutes overall, I think it's beneficial to have them, and it adds to our depth and versatility.

Other guys are back in their roles. Grant and Derrick. But if need be, they can step up and play more minutes like they did when those guys were out.

Q. I know how much you value awards in general, but Jayson Tatum being named First-Team All-NBA, what does that represent about this team and what does that mean to you?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, it's a huge honor. I think we talked about it as a team today, individual accolades are always a reflection of what we're doing as a team, and obviously that one is special, to go with Defensive Player of the Year, and our guys [that] are All-Defensive guys as well as All-Star and those individual accomplishments. But that one really stands out for a lot of reasons. Basically a top five player in the league, and where we got to as a team, coming from where we were early in the season, it's a reflection of that, as well, and he's shouldered a lot of load, guys being in and out, injuries, COVID. He's pretty much played through everything and been a constant, consistent presence for us.

Honored to coach a guy that puts in the work like he does. Very young professional, the way he handles himself, and he did come in with a chip on his shoulder based on what he didn't achieve last year, so he sets that standard for himself, and great to see him achieve that. The team is very proud of him.

Q. This is the 10th game in a row, Friday will be the 11th, where you've played every other day. It's now three weeks and counting. You can't control the schedule, you can't change it, but did you do anything different to prepare or was there anything -- was it better off not even being thought about when you're facing something that daunting as going every other day for this long with these kind of stakes?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, you start to minimize as much as you can in shootarounds and any time on court. You want to have their energy there and their legs there, so a lot longer film sessions. You know what the other team is doing and vice versa, but it's just fine tuning a few things and then letting the guys get what they need, trusting that they'll get what they need to stay sharp and stay ready but also stay rested. We'll shave down some of the physical on-court activity and do a little more mental preparation.

But it is what it is. Guys are both dealing with it with both teams, and it is a kind of war of attrition and who can stay the healthiest, and that's where the luck plays a big part in playoff series.

Q. To that end, it's not just this series but pretty much like the last 20 or 30 NBA playoff games have been decided by double digits or close to it. Why do you think that is, because there seem to be fewer close games than we've seen in recent postseasons.

IME UDOKA: Yeah, I would say some of it has to play parts of injuries, quite a few teams with the final four and the eight before that had significant injuries at times to significant players, so we've dealt with that, obviously in the Milwaukee series and even in this one obviously missing guys.

So that's a part of it. There's going to be some inconsistency with lineups and guys being in and out.

And then the offensive firepower and hot streaks that teams get on, some teams are -- like I mentioned the other day, just really out there to get into shootouts and outscore you. We want to do it a little bit differently, but when the offense is clicking and the defense is playing at a high level, you'll see some of those results for us, as well.

When we haven't played well, you've seen the 39-point quarters given up that stretch those big leads. For us, we want to be consistent. Other teams may want to get in a shootout, we want to hold teams down and play good offense, and those results come when we do that.

Q. You stuck with drop coverage against Bam pick-and-rolls throughout the series even when it wasn't going well for you early on. How much of that was just wanting to make sure that he never really got a physical advantage and got momentum getting to the hoop, and the result has been he's only had one game where he's broken out so far?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, it's been both. I think Grant and Al specifically have done a really good job on him, and we want to keep that matchup. We'll mix it up at times, but we feel our on-ball defenders have done a really good job of getting those guys inside the three-point line.

They pose some different challenges when you switch as much, whether it's a cross match for him and him on the offensive glass but also switching up aggressively enough on to their shooters, which they do a great job of stopping behind and slipping out and causing some confusion as far as that. We feel comfortable with what we've done overall with him more so than anything trying to keep specific matchups on him.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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