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June 12, 2022

Ime Udoka

Boston Celtics

Practice Day

Q. Ime, how has Robert recovered? And did he ever talk to you? Looked like he tweaked his knee pretty good in the game the other night. Did he ever talk to you about that?

IME UDOKA: Yes, he mentioned it. He did not do a specific thing, so he doesn't know when it happened. He just sprinted up and down one time after one possession and it was bothering him a little bit, and that's why he asked to come out.

So not that specific incident. We watched the film and nothing stood out. Obviously led to the blow-by with Curry where he couldn't move great on that possession. But doing better, the day off, the rest, equaled with today and tomorrow, optimistic he'll be good to go. But we'll test it before the game as usual.

Q. You've stated in some variation the drop coverage for the most part against Steph. With your bigs, are they supposed to be reading what spot on the floor they are supposed to be because it's that spot on the floor, or do you want them to read where the screen level is and react to that more so?

IME UDOKA: A little bit of both. We want them above the three-point line and at the three-point line at the lowest. We are leaving it up to our guards. A lot of responsibility where they want to pick him up in pressure and mix up his pickup point. Understanding they can make some unders that have been quite successful against him, if it's high enough. If not, force him in and rearview contest. Get the onus on those guys more than anything.

Their bigs are not really getting out quick rolling. So we can show a crowd there and really try to set the screens and free them up as much as possible more so than rolling so our bigs don't have to worry about dropping.

Q. Marcus seemed to fall out of the sky onto his back in the fourth quarter. Checking to see if he's okay. And do you feel like you need more out of Tatum?

IME UDOKA: Well, the Marcus play, I think you're referring to the Jaylen transition where he got the basket and Marcus got the free throw, put us up five. He got pushed; they called a foul. He's okay, though. Has not mentioned anything and played the rest of the game as far as that.

Jayson, sometimes you equate missing shots to playing poorly. What we've seen is he's had some really good looks, especially in Game 1, and we knew if he got those same looks throughout the series, he would be successful. They are trying to take him out and guard him with two at a time and don't want to give him specific matchups, and at times he has to be the playmaker. In the two wins, he's had 13 and 9 assists; he's getting 11 in those. He's down around 5 in the losses.

Don't really equate the numbers of how he's shooting; more so the result of him making the play and making the right read. At times it can get frustrating, them trying to take you out. But understanding how it will loosen everything up just by making the right play. You've seen that at times with him hitting Derrick and Marcus and our bigs in the pocket and having the numbers and getting some easy baskets.

Take your spots. Be aggressive when you have the matchup you like. Understand they are going to guard you a certain way and make the right read, which he has in the two wins.

Q. You said you don't look at the shooting percentages with Jayson, but he's shooting 27.5 percent from inside the arc. How much do you guys need to do to set him up in better situations, and what does he need to do to finish better in those opportunities?

IME UDOKA: I'd say some stronger finishes. As I mentioned at times, looking for fouls. When he plays off two and draws the contact, he's finished well. The other part is inside the three they are really crowding and trying to take away. So we want him, when he gets a cross match, to pop the space or roll in the pocket and try to get an advantage as far as that.

Some of the isolations, elbow, things we have done for him, they are really loading up. And even with that, he has to invite that and get guys other shots. More spacing. Then playing at the nail and elbow area in the series. For him, the numbers -- I think, over-penetrating at times. But he has done a good job of mixing that and drawing the crowd, which is there every time, and finding a shooter.

It's a balance of both. Then just, quite frankly, he's missed some easy ones that he usually makes around the basket, especially with their lack of rim protection at times.

Q. The narrative over the last couple days is Golden State is going to put you guys away, you blew an opportunity, you're kind of blowing it. How do you blend that in, the message of you're very much alive, but this can't happen again?

IME UDOKA: First thing you look at is 2-2. We obviously put ourselves in the position to stretch the lead and be up 3-1. But bottom line is we're 2-2 and we earned that as well, not being down 0-2 or 1-2 or whatever the case may be.

And so I'm sure they said the same thing about Golden State after we beat them here. We know it's a long series. Like I said, we've been battle tested in two seven-game series in Milwaukee and Miami.

So for us, looking at the positives and things we could have done better. Not playing our best offense overall. I think the narrative gets shifted to Curry and what he's doing. But in our wins and losses, they are scoring the same points.

A lot has been reliant on our offense, to your point, in the fourth quarter. But even throughout the game, we had several opportunities, being up five, six, seven, and poor offense or turnovers let them back in the game.

The difference in the game that we stretched the lead was we took advantage of those opportunities. We were solid. And against this team, anytime you run some poor offense, turn the ball over, live ball turnovers, let them get out, we know how quickly they can get back in the game. That was the case in Game 4 when we had our chances.

Q. Two on Jaylen. What do you think has allowed him to be so successful scoring-wise in this series? And how can you continue to involve him into the later stretches of the games? Feels like he does most of his work early and sometimes gets lost in the shuffle late in the fourth quarter.

IME UDOKA: They are switching some off-ball stuff, and we get some favorable matchups. But they are not guarding him the same as Jayson. I think they are guarding him more one-on-one. He's obviously a high-level scorer that can take advantage of that.

Putting Green on him on the perimeter a little bit I think takes Green out of his comfort zone, and he's one of their best help defenders. He's had some advantages there, where they don't like to switch off ball.

To your point, he's got it going early in the game. It's a balance and a mix. I think ideally we'd like to have Jayson and Jaylen both rolling at the same time. It's a mix of going to the guy that's being aggressive and scoring and getting the others involved as well.

That's obviously when we are at our best, as you've seen throughout the year, when they are in the high 20s or 30s together. It's a balance of that, but at the same time our players have to understand we've got to put them in position to get the ball late in the game and understand the advantage that they have.

So it works both ways. At times we have been a little stagnant and they are standing around when they could be more aggressive to get the ball, but as well we could put them in some play calls and get to scoring areas as well.

Q. You talked about your defense against the screen-and-roll. How difficult a challenge is it against him not because of his range but the way he moves without a ball? Does it make it harder to double or do things you might do against other perimeter players?

IME UDOKA: Obviously, the range extends the floor some. Some of the shots that he's hitting are only shots that he can hit and have been highly contested. He's hit a few of those.

I think when you look at the overall numbers of him making threes out of our touch, I think it's very low. It's a combination. It does get him in a rhythm, the fact that he's getting some of those shots off, but then he's moving in transition and relocating in some of those looks.

I think he was three for six, three for eight last game from the touch, which isn't terrible, but he is getting some looks up.

The thing he does well obviously is once he gets off the ball, the movement, that's different. Doesn't just stop. And they all are hunting shots for him, as you saw when we switched a little bit.

We can mix it up there, being more physical, make some unders on him when he's that high. We have been good as far as that. But the fact that he's such a willing and good playmaker I think makes it tougher to go after him, as opposed to other guys who don't want to get off the ball. He finds the guys in the pocket. Obviously, that's when Draymond is at his best, making plays for others.

It's a balance of both. And the offense, he's having a successful series offensively. But if we are playing offense the right way, we'd be 3-1, at least, right now.

Q. You talked about Jayson and his playmaking ability. I enjoyed watching it in Game 3, specifically. I think it's very underrated. What specifically will you look to implement going into Game 5? Do you like him in a playmaker role with you guys as much as he is a scorer?

IME UDOKA: I like both. We want the total package from him. It's something he's capable of and has improved on this year.

For him, it's just picking and choosing his spots, when to be aggressive and when to get guys involved, and understanding what they are going to do. He's seen that throughout the Miami series. Brooklyn went after him early. And even in Milwaukee, they are not going to let him beat them when he's on a roll like that.

So understanding it, welcoming it and understanding guys rely on him for our offense to click. It wasn't just him in Game 3. I think Jaylen had one of his best playmaking games also. That carryover and consistency, understanding how they are going to guard you, some nights you have to loosen them up a little bit, be the bait and get everybody else involved and it will open up for you in the fourth quarter.

Q. Is the goal with Steph to have him shoot with obviously as many contests, or is it for him to give up the ball to a teammate? Seems like he's beating whatever you guys give him. He's done that for years, obviously, whatever defense, he's seen it all. But what's the game plan with someone who can shoot so well and who can shoot against taller contests so well?

IME UDOKA: We haven't gone after him much, honestly, like Durant or some of those other teams. Some of that is due to the personnel that he has behind him and the playmakers that he has. For us, we rely on our one-on-one defense. Our guys use their length to contest, and then our bigs being up as well.

It's not as much us going after him. He's made some tough shots, no doubt. I think the numbers look like they are skewed when he hits some of the other ones out of transition or miscommunication, as opposed to us in our regular touch defense.

With us, as I mentioned, if we are playing the right way on the other end -- the defense has been fine. They are scoring around 107. Scored 100 in a game. And when we've scored well, we've scored 121, 116. So our balance has to be better on offense. Continue to make him work on that end and trust what we are doing on defense, which is allowing him to get some looks, get some looks off, but kind of containing everybody else.

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