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May 23, 2016

Billy Donovan

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Practice Day

Q. Billy, do you have to spend the day preparing for the Warriors with Draymond and without him?
BILLY DONOVAN: No, obviously we'll go forward with the full complement of players, that's what we always do. And we'll again try to concentrate and focus on what we need to do.

Q. They keep bringing up Westbrook, I think both Draymond and Coach [Steve] Kerr talked about him and the flailing. Is that kind of a little maddening that they're kind of deflecting a little bit, and it's not germane to really what happened last night?
BILLY DONOVAN: I think the biggest thing for us is not to be distracted. We've got enough to worry about playing against a great team. Steve's a terrific coach, and we need to focus on that. To me, that's stuff that the league will handle, and for us, we need to do the best job we can to get prepared for tomorrow night.

Q. You went to that small lineup quickly before you went small, and you played that lineup more minutes than any other last night. Was that the plan going in? Is that something you felt you saw in the game and you felt like the adjustment was necessary?
BILLY DONOVAN: Again, I've said this before. I think you're always going to make adjustments and do things during the course of any game. Certainly coming out of Game 2 you're going to look at some different things you can potentially do.

Again, sometimes those decisions you make and trying to do some of those things doesn't work out well. You know, a lot of times, I think because of all the analytics, people can look at lineups and matchups. It's very similar to the Enes [Kanter] and Steven [Adams] situation in San Antonio. Sometimes because the numbers don't bear out, you've got to watch the film to figure out why it didn't work out. I wanted to have that at least as an opportunity to do that substitution-wise, and we did it, and that group played well.

So we stuck with it for a while because they were doing a good job out there. If it didn't work well, we probably would have had to make another adjustment and come with a different lineup.

Q. When it didn't work earlier in the season, I mean early in the series, what did you see that said, hey, this lineup will work, we just need to make this adjustment?
BILLY DONOVAN: I think what happens is when you start looking at the plus-negatives of different lineups, sometimes you've got to realize like why is that? It could be turnovers, it could be blockouts. It could be lack of rebounding. It could be not getting back in transition. It could be fouling too much. You could look at a lot of different things that maybe generate a plus-minus ratio.

And I think as you watch the film and break it down, I think the thing I always try to look at is, okay, are these things plus-minus-wise, if it is a negative, are they things that are correctable for us? Can we do this if we correct some things on our end? Or is it one of those situations where you say there are just too many difficult matchups here. We have a hard time defensively and offensively, and it may not be good.

I think if looking at it in some of those situations, though we didn't in looking at it in some of those situations, even though we didn't do it very, very much in Game 1, and 2, I thought it was something we could maybe utilize a little bit. Like I said, as we went to it, it worked out well for us.

That's not to say next game it is a great thing. It could go the other way too. I think a lot of times you have to look at who is playing well, and how they're playing collectively as a group.

Q. In your last seven playoff games, your team is plus-55 in free throw attempts versus the opponents. Does that tell you anything in particular?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, again, I think so much of the league, there is a high premium on the three-point line. I think there is a high premium on trying to get to the free throw line and most fouls in the league are going to take place around the basket. If you're playing around the basket, you have more of a likelihood and opportunity to get to the free throw line.

So we did a little bit better job this last game of getting to the line. But we've traditionally I think this year have been a good team in terms of getting to the free throw line, I think, because we can offensive rebound and because we have some size and guys that can finish at the rim.

Q. Not to be Captain Obvious, but you guys win this tomorrow night it's 3-1, and then obviously they win it 2-2, and they grab back home court. Do you have to remind your guys of that?
BILLY DONOVAN: Listen, I think every competitive situation and every competitive challenge or game is its own separate identity and its own separate game. This is not a continuation from Game 3 to Game 4, just as it wasn't a continuation from Game 2 to Game 3. This is a separate entity right now. We're playing tomorrow night, and the only thing that matters in my opinion is staying focused on what's in front of us right now.

I think you can get into these scenarios of looking down the road, and the reality is that has no bearing on anything. The only thing that really matters is what are we doing right now? How well did we come in today to prepare and adjust and make some changes in corrections. How well did we come in in shootaround tomorrow and the preparation and focus do we have, and how well you play for 48 minutes?

Eventually you get to those things as time goes by. Right now, the most important thing for us is to play better than we did last night. There are things that we can do better and we need to do better.

Q. A lot of people saw Steven before the playoffs, and he's a big, physical guy. Now it's obvious the way he can impact the game offensively and defensively. How has he accelerated his improvement so dramatically?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I think Steven -- one of Steven's challenges, I think, as a player has been he is such an unselfish team guy, and he, I think, thinks of himself last all the time. As time has gone on I think this season, I think he's slowly evolved into different things that he can do that have been very, very impactful. He's been a really good roll to the basket for us. He's been a good rebounder for us. He's been a good rim protector. He's a smart defender. He's a good passer. I think you're starting to see little glimpses of different things that he can do.

I think as his career unfolds and as he gets older, you're only going to see him be a better passer or better post-scorer, better defensively, better rebounding. I think when you see yourself having success on the court, it just gives you confidence to do a little bit more.

Q. Has he come along a little faster than maybe you thought he would?
BILLY DONOVAN: You know, this summer when I worked with him for the first time it was in a 1 on 0 situation, and I watched him skillwise, and I was kind of like, wow, this guy can do a lot of different things. When training camp started, trying to get him to do some of those things was a little bit of a challenge. It was a challenge because of his unselfishness. I think playing -- it's almost like well, that's what Russell and Kevin do. I'll just catch it and dunk it. But there were more things that he needed to do offensively for us to elevate us as a team, and I think it took him some time. When we tried to thrust him and put him into a situation where it was a slow progression of him improving and getting better.

He deserves all the credit. He's the one that's put the time in. He's the one that's watched the film and really worked hard at it. It's good to see him gain success because like I've always told him really at the center spot there is not an element of the game that he can't impact in some way. He just needs to try to get all of his tools into the game as much as he can.

Q. Billy, why were you able to keep them on their heels not just in transition, but it seemed like secondary break and driving their closeouts that kind of thing, it seems you guys were playing downhill for a really large portion of last night.
BILLY DONOVAN: You know, I said this, they took 23 three-point shots in the first half. Not all of them were closely contested. I think when you see a shooting percentage of 34 percent by them in the first half again. I'm not sitting there saying it was all of our defense, because it wasn't. There were some clear looks that didn't go in. But both teams, I think, on missed shots are very, very aggressive and dynamic in transition.

Anytime a team's not shooting great percentage, whether it's us or them, you're promoting more opportunities to play out in transition and putting a lot more pressure to get back in transition and those things are hard. So I think in that flurry there in that second quarter, so to speak to close out the half, there were a lot of missed shots that enabled us to get out in the break.

I think some of that happened to us, to be honest with you, in Game 2 where Curry went a little bit crazy in that third quarter where we missed some shots and had a hard time getting back and he ran off a bunch of points and blew the game open. I think with both teams it's critical to have a really, really good offensive possessions, and it's critical to be able to get back in transition as best you can.

Q. On the court did you feel as if the flagrant on Draymond impacted the emotion of your team? It seemed they ratcheted up from there and closed the half very strong.
BILLY DONOVAN: I didn't get that sense. Obviously there was a little bit of a delay waiting to get it sorted out. But I think our guys just went back to playing. There are going to be different things that are going to happen inside the course of the game, and you can't get distracted. You've got to stay focused on what's in front of you and what's the next thing. I felt like our guys did that.

What kind of emotional impact it had, I didn't sense that this was like a motivating play for us. I think our guys went out there and just went out and played.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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