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NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: THUNDER v SPURS


May 26, 2014


Gregg Popovich


OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA: Practice Day

Q. Is Manu still out for the series? (Laughter).
GREGG POPOVICH: Well, we're doing all the tests. One never knows. (Laughter). We've been surprised by part of what he's done in recovery‑wise, so we'll see.

Q. You got that playful jab in at the press conference. What's it like when you're going against‑‑
GREGG POPOVICH: You've got some humor, right?

Q. What's it like when you're going up against the guys that have come up through your system and got to play against these guys in the Playoffs?
GREGG POPOVICH: You know, it's difficult because you root for those guys all the time, and then all of a sudden you can't. But win or lose, we all remain close and friendly without a doubt.

Q. The 22‑0 free‑throw discrepancy in the third quarter, was that strictly a result of their being the much more‑aggressive team?
GREGG POPOVICH: That's what I told my team.

Q. Jokes aside, at the end of the day on a professional level are you okay with the way the Thunder handled‑‑
GREGG POPOVICH: That's irrelevant to me. Everybody handles things differently. No one really knows what their motivation was or how much was a game or how much was just fact. I don't think it's really relevant. You go play and whoever is on the court plays. It's none of our business who they play or who they don't play, so I just look at it that way.

Q. When he does come back, did you feel like the energy and the emotion of last night had any impact on your club?
GREGG POPOVICH: You mean of Serge being back?

Q. Serge being back, the crowd and the uniqueness‑‑
GREGG POPOVICH: All these guys are pros. They go play. I don't think that had anything to do with us not getting back in transition or not picking up a roller in the half court or not being as aggressive, the disparity in free throws really shows a sign of aggressiveness. It's about the game. It's about how you play. But if you don't shoot well, which we didn't do last night, it's a bad combination to also play poor defense at the other end. That's not going to work.

Q. Generally about aggressiveness, what does Tony have to do to‑‑
GREGG POPOVICH: He's got to play better. He's our best player. He's got to play better.

Q. On the aggressive nature, do you feel like maybe you guys maybe settled for jump shots at times instead of attacking?
GREGG POPOVICH: Well, that happens throughout the game on every team. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don't, but in general it's more about the defense than it was‑‑ you can't control the shooting. If you don't shoot well, you don't shoot well. I don't get too excited about that. But you'd better play defense at the other end to keep yourself in the game, and we didn't do that well enough. Durant and Westbrook shot too many free throws, and we took care of that the first two games, but that got away from us, for instance, in Game 3. That's a big part of what they do. That can't happen.

Q. Is Manu practicing today?
GREGG POPOVICH: Yes, Manu is going to practice. He has contact, he'll go about 40 minutes, knock heads, and we'll see how he is.

Q. You've always appreciated the international talent, and Serge is a guy that like a lot of guys in this league, he's been through a lot and came up through a country that had a ton of turmoil. Even he doesn't know if he has 18 siblings or 20 siblings and it's a very different experience. What kind of perspective have you had on him just in the past couple of years?
GREGG POPOVICH: I think he's a special player and a special person. The way he handles himself, the class that he exudes, I think he's the best defensive player in the league, but I think he's been overlooked to some degree in that regard. But he also does what he does at the offensive end. I think he's one of the most gifted players in our league because he's a dual player. He does it at both ends of the court. But he's also a fine man, so that's a pretty great combination.

Q. As a general rule, with a great defensive player, do you try to stay away from him or to you try to attack him?
GREGG POPOVICH: A little bit of both. It depends on the situation or who the person is, it's attacking or not attacking.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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