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May 26, 2016

Billy Donovan

Oakland, California: Game Five

Q. Coach Donovan, you said when I was talking to you that you want your team to understand that it's going to be tough. So even though you know this could be possibly an elimination game. What is it that you probably convey to them about this particular game here?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, again, I said this before, we have great respect for Golden State. We have great respect for the fact that they won a World Championship last year. They set an NBA record for the most wins in the history of the league. They're a great team. I think anytime you're going on the road playing against a great team like this, you've got to be prepared to play really, really well.

Q. How much confidence do you think you got out of closing out San Antonio when you could have potentially faced a Game 7 if you had lost?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, it's hard to say. I think our guys have done a really good job of just kind of moving on to the next game. You know, we've had some situations in the playoffs where we lost Game 2 at home to Dallas. We obviously really got beat handily in San Antonio in Game 1. Game 2 here, same thing. And our guys have shown, I think, a pretty good resolve to take what's happened the game before and adjust and move on and try to refocus and get better from that. And I think you've got to go through those opportunities, those setbacks, in order to evolve and grow and improve.

So I don't know what the San Antonio series, per se, has anything to do with today just because it's a different day, different game, different team. I think all the elements are totally different. We'll just try to play this game as it is, one game, right now, here today, against Golden State. Just go out there and play to the best of our ability.

Q. Billy, do you have any explanation for all the blowouts we're seeing, East and West? Two of your six San Antonio games were blowouts. Three of the four here were blowouts. We're not seeing a lot of competitive games but blowouts on both ends.
BILLY DONOVAN: It's hard for me to comment on the Toronto-Cleveland series, but I think if you look at certainly the way San Antonio beat us, they've been a top-5 offensive and defensive team the whole entire year. So they have an ability to be very, very explosive on both ends. They have the ability to score at a high rate, and they have the ability to shut you down. I think the same thing with Golden State. They've been a top-5 offensive and defensive team all year, and they're extremely explosive.

So when you have that kind of explosiveness on both ends of the floor, if one team is generally struggling to maybe get stops and struggling to score, I think you can see wide margins of victory.

Q. What have you seen from Steven Adams this series has most impressed you?
BILLY DONOVAN: Steven's just a team guy. He's been that way since I got here. He's gotten better, he's improved, he's grown. I think he's really, really focused and concentrated on trying to do his job to the best of his ability, and I think he does his job out of great care for the guys in the locker room. He wants to, because of how much of a team guy he is, he wants to do well, not only for himself, but he wants to do well for his teammates.

Q. For a while there's been an outside perception of [Russell] Westbrook, that along with his gifts and everything, maybe he didn't pass enough to some people. But what we're seeing in this series is guys getting 11 assists, and it's so different from that whole perception. Has there been a change or something you guys have worked on?
BILLY DONOVAN: Actually, last year, coming in this time a year ago, watching film of last year's team, the team obviously really, really struggled with a lot of injuries. And Russell, as competitive as he is, I'm sure in that moment he probably felt like he needed to put the team on his back in any possible way to try to help him get the team to the playoffs. And sometimes that can be misconstrued as him trying to shoot too much.

With Kevin coming back and being healthy, he understands that dynamic, and Russell is a winner, and he'll do whatever he can to try to impact winning. It could be assists. It could be scoring. It could be rebounding. It could be defense. He's one of those rare players that could impact the game without ever taking a shot. So I think he tries to play based on what the defense is giving him. But he's unselfish. He's a willing passer, and just being around him from the beginning of training camp, I never would have thought that that was a problem or something that we had to discuss or talk about. As a point guard, you know your job and responsibility is to make other people around you better, and as a leader, try to figure out, how do I inject myself in the game to help our team be successful?

Q. [Andre] Roberson's had two big games back home in OKC. What are you telling him?
BILLY DONOVAN: Who now? Roberson?

Q. Yes. He had two big games back there, what have you been telling him to get him into the rhythm of his game? As a matter of fact, Westbrook has been finding him for all those shots.
BILLY DONOVAN: For all of our guys, we want to try to generate good shots. Spacing is important, ball movement is important, we've done a good job with that. We've been able to manufacture and generate some shots. Andre's been in a position several times where he's been able to get open on some cuts. He's gotten some three-point shots that he's knocked down. He's been able to find his way along the baseline. He's done a lot of different things, I think, to impact the game on really both ends of the floor.

But I don't think there is anything in particular necessarily that Andre's doing to get into a rhythm, as much as what he's doing is finding good creases, good seams and some open shots. He's been able to put the ball in the basket.

Q. When you look back at it, how exciting and challenging it has been as a first-year NBA coach to coach a player like Russell Westbrook?
BILLY DONOVAN: I've said this before, before coming in I had no relationship with any of these guys, and you get a chance to watch them play on tape and on TV and you know about them as players by watching them. But getting to know him as a person, he's got unbelievable character, he's a great guy, he's a really, really good person. I think a lot of times people look at him on the court in between the lines and they think that's who he is off the court, and that's the furthest thing from the truth. I mean, he's just a terrific all-around guy all the way. He's very, very bright. He's intelligent. He's got great personality. He's got great enthusiasm for life. But sometimes I think because people don't get a chance to see these guys, they watched him play and they take who they are as a player and think that's who they are as a person.

So I've enjoyed more than anything else, besides the playing aspect, who he is as a person.

Q. As a coach, you can preach intensity, but your guys have to do it. I think a lot of folks are struck by the hunger and the fact that right now it seems like it's the more aggressive, hungry team. Any way of explaining that in terms of your guys? It's about two, three weeks now they've been playing at a pretty high level.
BILLY DONOVAN: Again, I think a lot of times you have situations where you have great respect for who you're playing against. Our guys understand how good San Antonio was. Dallas, obviously, fought us tooth and nail all the way through, and I know their roster was somewhat depleted with injuries. San Antonio, even resting players like they did during the course of the season, they still won 67 games. That's remarkable, considering that they didn't at times play everybody. And obviously what Golden State has done. So you're going to have to play that way to give yourself a chance each and every game.

Our guys understand that once the game is over and done with, we kind of have to get back to preparing for the next one, and I think that takes a lot of time and concentration and energy and focus.

Q. This is kind of coming off the same question about the intensity, but Golden State has these moments where they go on these runs and points and we've seen that throughout the season, and we've seen it at times in this series. But there have been times in this series where you also, your team has gone on this run of defense where you guys will get a steal, get a big defensive play on the other end and tilt the court. In those moments, how do you coach or do you kind of take a step back and let their defensive intensity kind of take over?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, we've got to game plan defensively. We want to be disciplined and focused on what we're trying to do. We do have length and we do have active guys in terms of their range and being able to deflect. But our team, and I think both teams are exceptional in transition. So missed shots or loose ball, live-ball turnovers that are picked up and that are going down the floor, it gets really, really hard to match up and to get stops because of, one, the speed, quickness, and shooting.

So we want to play aggressively on defense, and to that point, we also want to be disciplined to what we're trying to do.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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