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June 4, 2022

Ime Udoka

Boston Celtics

Practice Day

Q. Rob, throughout the playoffs, seemed like he was close to himself after Game 1 after the layoff and treatment. Can you take me inside the daily back and forth between you and him and just some of the treatment he's getting and what is allowing him to get out there? I know you're giving him a lot of encouragement, too. Just off what he's playing through.

IME UDOKA: Yeah, I think first of all, the most important thing is the time in between the games, time off after the Miami series. That's how he reacts best, obviously, is with rest and treatment. And so not having every other day for a while (like the Celtics did) since Game 3 of Milwaukee, that should benefit him going forward.

And then from there it's just discussion and let him know pretty much, Play the game. If you don't need to practice, shootaround, I don't need to see you on the court for the rest of the season until game time if that benefits you. So he kind of gets what he needs as far as that. Watches what he needed to watch and really more mental than physical.

Q. Is there anything you can do at this point to fix what seems to be an issue in these third quarters?

IME UDOKA: We understood and made it pretty clear that Golden State is the best third-quarter team in the postseason this year. Seems like the little things come back to bite us at times and that quarter specifically, coming out with a few turnovers, and they got four offensive rebounds that led to baskets, directly led to baskets. Looney had his way a little bit. He had a good first half overall. They had six. But to get four or five in that quarter, and the extra shots obviously hurt us. That's something we need to do. We talk about starts of games, and the third quarter is not much different than that. Got to be better in that area and not get ourselves behind the 8-ball and have to play uphill the rest of the way.

Q. You're a very direct guy. Seems like you want to put stuff out there on the table and kind of deal with it. What was the process like of getting the players to do that with each other and just be direct and honest with stuff with each other and get through all that together?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, I think the fact the core has been around each other for a while, they can kind of do that. It was just a matter of delivery and accountability with yourself, as you say something, but you're doing the same; guys are going to look at that a certain kind of way.

I think once they saw it coming from me, and we encourage dialogue and debate, discussion, criticism. It's how you deliver it, but we are all on the same page with the same goal. It's more so how you deliver and receive the message.

I've mentioned we don't really have a lot of sensitive guys. They get on each other. I've encouraged that, to not only come from the coaching staff but to come from amongst themselves. You can see that in every timeout and on the court and in the locker room, every time we come to a huddle or halftime, they are already talking things out before we get there. So that growth has been good for our group.

Q. You guys obviously had a lot of success in the fourth in Game 1, playing smaller. I think Payton played more minutes in that quarter than he did the last two games in the Miami series. When you have success riding a lineup like you did in Game 1, how does that influence your rotation in Game 2? Does it make you want to go to that lineup sooner, or do you have to let the game dictate your decision-making?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, it's not really a pre-conceived thing going in. We have some lineups set, but I think our versatility in general helps us out in that regard and kind of let the game play out. We extend the lead with Marcus on the bench, with Payton and Derrick in there playing well, and downsize without the five. So that really worked for us obviously.

We gave credit to Marcus, sitting there ready, cheering on. And he wants to be in the game to impact it, but sees what that group is doing. That's kind of the selfless nature of our team growing throughout the year. It's a game-by-game thing. We understand we can go downsize with Derrick. If Grant is playing well on both ends, we could play him, or go double big. I think our flexibility as far as that is dictated by the game and how it plays out.

Q. When you look at the first quarter, the mistakes you made, is that something you can clean up with your normal starting personnel, or do you think you need to make an adjustment there, cleaning up the things you were doing wrong, leaving Steph open and stuff like that?

IME UDOKA: I don't think it had anything to do with the starters or whoever was in the game. It was a lot of transition and non-communication between the guards. That's not going to change regardless if we do something with the bigs. It was a lack of communication there.

Other than getting one cleaner look late with Daniel Theis where we were supposed to be switching, it was a lot to do with guard-guard actions and transitions or the offense and us not communicating as well. And Klay getting some shots as well.

Nothing we can't clean up. Obviously, we don't want to give up six threes and 21 points. But big picture, we were down four, 32-28; he went off for that. We were still in good striking range overall. We knew if we limited him, we would be in much better shape. And the other part is offensively we were fine. Scoring the 28, we were only down four. So we felt good about that, getting him off to that extent.

Q. I know it's all different now because of threes, but we have seen more quarters get away from teams in the playoffs than ever before. Is there a reason for it other than the threes? You've been on both sides of it this postseason as a coach. When these huge runs that we're seeing more and more often now happen, I guess how surprising is it that it's not just a fluke; that it just seems it's part of the game now?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, teams can obviously get off to those leads because of the three. I think it's exaggerated because of that. I think a lot of times, especially in the Miami series, a series where we've had some poor quarters, there's been a lot of self-inflicted stuff. We look at Brooklyn, Miami, Milwaukee and now this series, it's a lot of the same things: taking care of the ball, not letting teams get out in transition, limiting them to one shot. Offensively that hurts us when they get those second, third opportunities.

It kind of comes down to the same things with us. But the threes can exaggerate it, for sure, and extend that lead. We harp on the little things that have won and lost us games throughout series so far. I think the threes are part of it, and it can get you back in the game as well.

Teams are going to play a certain way regardless if they have the lead or not. It affects it, for sure, but we try to harp on the little things that have hurt us more than Golden State being a prolific shooting team.

Q. I think you put Marcus on Draymond at some point to sort of cut off the dribble hand-offs and the relocations that he does to set other shooters up for threes. How much of your defensive strategy is focused on making him aggressive or making him more of a shooter, as opposed to a facilitator?

IME UDOKA: That's a big part of it. You know, we're comfortable with pretty much all of our wings, our guards on him. Like I said, we are a bigger team and physical team as far as that.

So we don't feel it's a cross-match with Marcus by any means or a mismatch there. And the bottom line is we put Marcus on bigs throughout the season to switch on to their guards at times. That's something in our back pocket that we feel comfortable doing. Knowing when they are man initiators, getting everyone involved, and Marcus has such great recognition of when to switch onto guys with communication and kind of take things away. So that's something that we go to late in games a lot.

Then in general, helping off when it's appropriate and try to make him be more of a scorer, and understanding it's a tough one: You help off, but he's going right into a dribble hand-off action or a pin-down action, and you have to be able to help and get back. That's one thing we have to harp on coming into the series, and they did a great job during the game.

Q. You've played for a lot of teams, coached for a lot of teams. What is it about this group that makes it so effective being on the road? Is it something in certain players' DNA, or something you do it a few times and you start to believe? What is it about this group that it doesn't matter where you are?

IME UDOKA: It's a little bit of both. We have guys that stay even-keeled and don't get rattled too easily. I harped on it early in the season to get the road warrior mentality, and the guys have bought into that.

But the bottom line is if we defend at a certain level, we should be in good shape regardless where we're playing. That's a good thing. We can limit runs in those 38-point quarters. You look at the others, 22 and 16, we are in good shape. So just try to limit the runs. I think offensively and in general, we have a confident group. Then defensively know we can lock in. So that usually gives us good results.

But love that part of it, love where we're at, 8-2 on the road in the playoffs. It obviously benefits us to get on the road and get those wins and go back home and take care of business.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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