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June 16, 2022

Ime Udoka

Boston Celtics

Game 6: Pregame

Q. How do you prepare for a game like this with this magnitude, Game 6 of the Finals?

IME UDOKA: Similarly to the other games in the playoffs and throughout the season. Obviously know the situation and have kind of been here before already in the playoffs with three elimination games.

For us, it's more of the same. Don't put too much pressure or anything different but all of the little things that we've done well to succeed, we'll try to do those, as well as a few tweaks here and there. But understand we need a better start than we had last game and bring the same energy that they brought at home.

Q. You thought your team might have been fatigued down the stretch of Game 5. How does that inform the way you coach tonight? Do you need to steal your guys some minutes?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, you'd like to keep them fresh obviously for the fourth quarter, and a big part of that was the success we had in the third with that group and played them a little bit longer and getting back in the game and taking the lead there. Then the bench production wasn't the same.

As we started out the fourth poorly, we got our guys back in quicker than we'd like to. We don't expect a lack of production like that again off the bench, so keep the guys in their natural rotation, keep their minutes down, and they will be fresh for the end.

Q. Rob played almost the entire third quarter of Game 5, played 18 minutes in the second half. What is the balance there between trying to keep him on the court because he's made an impact and then worrying about just his health and everything like that?

IME UDOKA: It's a pretty easy thing to see when he's feeling good and has a bounce in his step and whether he tweaked something or is kind of limping around out there. That's pretty easy to see. For him it's not a matter of any minute restriction, it's just what we're conscious of and not running him longer stretches.

For him, if he's looking good and feeling good and that unit is playing well, he has no problem staying out there. Nothing that needs to be done as far as minutes, but we do want to have him with certain rotations, and that splits up his rotations in the minutes more so and we can get him in and out on quicker stretches instead of running longer nine- or ten-minute ones.

Q. When you make that decision to keep playing your main guys throughout the entire half, and you're looking to steal little bits of rest during stoppages, who are you consulting with on the bench, whether it's assistant coaches, training staff, sports science department, to figure how much they can push?

IME UDOKA: We have something we like to look at rotation-wise with the coaching staff. Obviously, we have the timeouts to discuss, who has been in for certain stretches or not and who is playing well in what rotations. We have two or three that we go over every day, and kind of look at those, and then obviously have to have a feel for the game as well. And so depending how lineups are playing, rotations and matchups, we can kind of tweak those.

But we have a few different scenarios that we go over but have to have the natural feel of the game, how it's flowing.

Q. Same starters tonight?


Q. And with Rob, he said after Game 5, he's felt better with the extra rest as the series has gone along. Is that one positive, that he's had more time to get himself closer to being right?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, I think so, with the days in between, have definitely benefitted him as well as the rest coming off the Miami series.

So he's looked and felt fresh, other than a tweak here or there where he landed poorly or something. For the most part, it's been different than the Miami series, and going back to Milwaukee where we only had a day of rest in between.

Although he's still day-to-day and we'll see how he feels before every game, it was a little more dicey then because of the lack of rest in between.

So he looks better, feels better and is able to run longer stretches if need be.

Q. Do you sense the mood of your team, is it an angry one as you get ready for this game, and what are some of the things you do in this situation? Being with this team all year long, do you say much before the game, or is it basically your keys, turnovers, ball movement, etc.?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, I wouldn't say angry mood at all. We know we've had opportunities in the last two games, having leads in the fourth quarter of both of those. And so a few things here and there go a different way, and we'd be in a different situation. But more so, business as usual, as alluded to earlier with the fact that we have been in this situation quite a few times in the playoffs this year.

For me, it's a game-by-game thing. You know, I'm not a big rah-rah guy as far as trying to ramp guys up, I think our guys are ready for the situation and know what it is. More of -- like I said, it always comes down to the small details, and that's what has lost us some of the leads for us in the fourth quarter.

For us, we'll go out and handle it, and just the urgency and understanding how they are going to come out and what we are going to do with our home crowd as well, similarly to what they did at Golden State, obviously got off to a really good start and put some pressure on us. We'd like to do the same on our home court this time.

Q. You talk about business as usual, you try to keep everything similar, but everyone is aware of the magnitude. There's a championship at stake here. How do you keep it as close to business as usual and how do you keep it during the game, the guys focused on the task at hand, knowing that there's any potential run that Golden State makes could be the end and they could be celebrating on your home floor?

IME UDOKA: Like I said, the small things, the details. We have guarded Curry a certain way but kind of kept everything else in check. I think we had some slippage in other areas the last game where he didn't shoot the ball extremely well but a lot of the off-ball actions, some of the easy baskets that led to them getting the lead earlier in the game.

It's focusing on those things and not losing sight of the big picture of things we've done well this whole series. And obviously turnovers is a big part of this. And when they don't offensive rebound, we are obviously in better shape, but 50 points in the paint the last game, a lot of those, other than Wiggins having some pull ups or floaters, a lot were slips to the basket and off-ball actions we had guarded well the first four games. So sticking with those and doing what we have done well as far as that.

Offensively, that's been some of our struggle. So focusing on that end and being solid on defense like we have, I think you have to approach it that way, and the fact that a championship is on the line, we were still in the same situation with Milwaukee and Miami where the season was on the line as well. That part doesn't change, and the focus on the details has to stay the same.

Q. You mentioned in your first answer that sometimes these scenarios, these elimination games can cause pressure. What is it about your players that has allowed them to avoid that pressure while they have been out on the court for the three elimination games that you mentioned?

IME UDOKA: Adversity throughout the season and not losing a lot of games in a row. Obviously haven't lost three in a row since December and two in a row throughout this whole playoff series until last game.

So for us, the bounce-back ability to put things behind us and address what we need to and focus on the minute details and not look at big picture but the small things that dictated the outcome of a game.

For us, we do have a short memory and that's worked well for us and put it behind us. And also being in these situations throughout the year where we had to battle back after a big hole early in the season, all of those things bode well for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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