June 8, 2022
Game 3: Postgame
Celtics 116, Warriors 100
Q. Ime, offensively how did you try to settle down as the game went on against all the help and aggression they're doing against you defensively? And then on the defensive side for you guys, you're dropping in that third. What was the adjustment after they hit a bunch of threes over that scheme?
IME UDOKA: Yeah, offensively it was really to keep our composure and not get sped up. I felt last game we weren't our best at attacking the rim and finding our outlets. Our spacing was much better tonight. Guys being patient and finding the driving lanes and getting to the basket. The second-chance points and offensive rebounds were big for us.
Defensively, hit some tough shots in the third, obviously -- four-point play, seven-point play with the flagrant foul there. But we didn't fall off the cliff offensively like we did in other games. 33 to 25 in that quarter. We kept scoring. And then obviously that big fourth quarter. So that was the main key, to continue to be solid on offense and stay out of the teens, like we did in the first two games in the third quarter.
Q. Especially down the stretch, just how much was Rob's presence at the rim helping you guys just do what you had to do defensively?
IME UDOKA: Yeah, it was huge. Not only the shots that he did block -- I think he got four tonight -- but the ones he altered and his presence down there of course deters guys from driving. He was a big part of what we did. Staying big tonight, getting those 15 offensive rebounds and 22 second-chance points.
So those were much needed. We want to try to impose our will and size in this series. It's going to be a back-and-forth battle as far as that, but when we get nights like this from him and Al, obviously it pays dividends for us.
Q. You talked a lot after Game 2 about the energy you wanted your guys to play with after the way that game went. It seemed like right from the beginning of the game you guys came out with a pretty clear intent to play a little more physically, to get after rebounds, to play with more energy. Was that something you guys talked about the last couple days and did you like how you were able to apply that right off the bat?
IME UDOKA: Yeah, we loved the start. Other than the turnovers late in the half that allowed them to get back into it a little bit, I thought we were solid overall. Just from a strictly physical standpoint, we matched their intensity better than last game, especially in the third quarter.
There's ebbs and flows of a series. It's a long series. We don't love how we kind of wilted at times last game, and that was a big point of emphasis the last few days.
Q. You talked a couple of times before the game about taking a big-picture view even in the Finals with this core. How do you take a big-picture view now in the Finals when there's no smaller picture than that? And then with that, how much of a challenge is this for Rob, especially dealing with all their shooting, all their movement, everything, and what can he take away from this?
IME UDOKA: Yeah, he has to be adaptable and be able to play in any type of situation. For us, more than switching the lineups and things that we've had success with all year, we'll look at scheme and matchup coverage more so than that first of all, and so obviously paid dividends tonight. He was a big-time factor in the paint. We got to play our bigs quite a bit. And there are guys he can guard out there. Wiggins is different than a P.J. Tucker and some of the guys we've had that kind of stand in the corner more. He's obviously more active and could put it down a little bit better, so that's caused him some trouble. But also like I mentioned, not being 100 percent and being able to slide and move on the perimeter as well.
We understand that, and like I said, it's the Finals and we've got to do what we've got to do to win. But this is the core group going forward, and to have the confidence to be able to figure it out with him is going to be big going forward.
Q. You guys I think held them to 33 percent shooting in that fourth quarter. Just one three total there. To be able to do that when you were sticking big against a smaller group like that, how big is that for you guys to be able to do that given the struggles with the double big lineups in Game 2?
IME UDOKA: Yeah, I think especially after the third quarter, I think they made six or seven in that quarter. We had to adjust a little bit. Got to switching a little bit more. That's asking a lot of Rob and Al and those guys. They've done it all year, but with Rob being a little hampered and getting out there, you've got to work a little bit harder to get out on Curry, with the range those guys have.
For him, it worked tonight. We can adjust a little bit and we doubled a little bit here and there and switched a little bit more in the fourth to take away those threes. But I think what we did offensively, as well, put them in some foul trouble situations, took some of their aggression away. Like I said, four blocked shots but a lot that he deterred. I'm sure they missed a few of those threes with those contests alone.
Q. You guys seemed to go at Steph early and often. Was the game plan to make him more work on defense?
IME UDOKA: Yeah, that was part of it. That's been throughout the Playoffs. We find matchups that we think are favorable, we'll attack those. Got some fouls early, so we knew he wouldn't be as aggressive. Not just that, it's that you don't want to let these guys rest on that end of the court. We did it with Durant, did it with Antetokounmpo at times. Even the good defenders, you don't want to give them one end of the court off. We have guys that play both ends, quite a few scoring threats as well as defensive guys.
So putting those guys in action and not letting them off the hook is part of the plan, for sure.
Q. I asked you before the game about you guys' ability to respond between games following a loss. What allowed you guys to respond tonight after that Steph Curry three that put them up 83-82?
IME UDOKA: They were making some tough shots, honestly. I think offensively we were still sharp and felt we could guard better, but they did make some tough shots. For us, it was more the end of the first half that really allowed them to get back into it. Of course they hit some big shots there. But we talked about it quite a bit, our group being resilient and being able to fight through a lot of things and at times when it's most needed being able to lock down on defense, which we did in the fourth quarter.
Another bounceback from us. My message to the group was we've done this after losses, let's respond the right way after a win now.
Q. What are those conversations like with Robert? You list him questionable before every game. Is he saying, I can play and you're like, Slow down, Robert? What is that interaction like before every game? He seems to be limping, but he's still running. Have you seen something like this before where you're consulting with him before every game to see how he feels?
IME UDOKA: Yeah, well, at this point of the season it is what it is. We talked about it. But he doesn't do a whole lot physically in between, so you don't get a true sense until he really gets a good warmup. The day after it feels okay at times. The second day sometimes it's more sore. So it comes and goes. That's why we're being deliberate about listing him and really checking him out in case he feels worse.
The swelling has been good. Pain has been tolerable. It's a legit day-to-day situation, and when he ramps up before the game, that's when we know how he really feels.
Q. Just about Grant Williams' performance out there, what did you see different in his approach? Because it seemed like in the beginning he was getting a little bit into it again with Draymond but then he kept his composure, made some really big plays down the stretch. What did you see differently in his approach and how important is that moving forward throughout the series?
IME UDOKA: Yeah, he's a big piece of what we do and he's been that all season. Hasn't shot it his best in this series, but we rely on him to do so many other things. Similar to Al. Defending multiple positions and also being that threat. But teams are guarding him different, and so try to keep it simple for him. He made some nice plays to the basket, a few drives, a few floaters and made the right reads.
So as simple as it sounds. He has to navigate getting run off the line now and do what he's always done on defense. So it's huge for us, that added benefit from him, as well as Payton and Derrick and our bench guys.
Q. I know you just won Game 3, but what would it mean for you guys to go back to San Francisco leading the series 3-1 and how will you manage the anxiety of your players for Game 4?
IME UDOKA: It would be big to go back up two, I guess. Same as it would have been if we would have got the game there. But it's a long series. We take it one by one. Our focus is on the next game. And we'll look at a bunch of things we could have done better, obviously, in that run in the third quarter. But I don't think at this point there's any anxiety from the players. It is what it is. We've been battle tested throughout the Playoffs, and this far into a series, it should be on to the next. I think we've seen what makes us successful and just have to have carryover after a win more so than we have in the past in the Playoffs this year.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports