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July 16, 2021

Khris Middleton

Milwaukee Bucks

Practice Day

Q. You haven't shot the ball particularly well in this series, but you've also found a way to have way more possessions than the Suns. What has that focus been like for you to find those other advantages even if you aren't shooting the ball well?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: It's been a huge emphasis for us this whole playoff run, even throughout the season. Crashing the boards a little bit more on the offensive end. Definitely eliminating our turnovers. We got to give ourselves a shot.

But as far as knocking out shots, I think we'd make our lives a lot easier if we can knock down a couple more shots. As long as we're doing those other things, it's still going to give us a chance to win.

Q. You've been with Giannis forever. Seems like certain nights the wall is built well, he's going to be leaning on you and leaning on all of his teammates to make shots. What goes through your mind on those nights? Okay, I'm going to have to look for my shot a little bit more or I know they're helping on that pick-and-roll and he's not going to be there on that roll. What goes through your mind?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Just being ready for any situation. Sometimes, like you said, the wall is strong where he has to make that pass out. Sometimes he's able to break through it. Either way, he does a great job of finding that balance, keeping the defense honest, whether it's with his playmaking or aggressiveness going to the basket. I think he has been great at that.

Like I said, we just got to be ready for him when he kicks it out. Be able to keep the defense honest. If not, just keep moving it, driving it.

Q. You talked about earlier in the series your inability to kind of find that rhythm on the road here in Phoenix. Is it something you see on film or kind of spots you're taking shots from? Do you think you found an answer to potentially get you off to a good start on Game 5 Saturday?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Not really. I think the shots I've taken, and we've all taken, have been pretty good looks. We just got to knock 'em down. It's as simple as that.

Q. Giannis has been called for the most charges over the last couple years. It seems like he's doing something different this season where he's not getting as many calls on him. As a teammate, what have you seen differently how he attacks the paint?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Just learning. Not trying to force his way through a crowd with that wall I was just speaking about. He is keeping the defense honest where they can't always load up on him because now they know he will pass it. He will kick it to his teammates and allow them to play some. So they can't really load up on him as much as they used to, knowing he's just going to try to barrel his way to the rim.

Q. Lights are on you after your amazing performance the previous game. How have you prepared mentally right now for the first road win obviously you need to get so you can go back to Milwaukee and end the series?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Same focus, same intent we've been having this whole run. Stay locked in, play the right way, compete, play as hard as we can. That's it.

Q. I remember earlier in the year when you first put in the new offense, it didn't really feel like you ever found anyone in the dunker spot. That pass was not one you could find. Now you do it all the time. What does it mean to you to see that progress. We put this offense in a reason and now on the biggest stage it's working?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Yeah, earlier in the season, like you said, we weren't finding that guy at all, just because we forgot at times. We never saw that person down there for a couple years. The more you watch film, the more you play, the more you get an understanding of the offense, the better you become at it. That's what happened throughout the year. We continued to grow as a team with that spot and our new spacing.

Q. The choice to play for the national team was already pretty unorthodox in terms of the turnaround. Now obviously you know some of the struggles happening with that group. Your head is here, but does it put you in a tricky place when all of a sudden they're looking at the guys in this series and are in a tough spot without you guys? How do you address that, if at all, or do you keep it on the side until this thing is done?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Right now, I keep it on the side. I'm still fully committed. It's unfortunate that some of the things have happened. But as far as myself, where my head is at, where my focus is at, it's the same as far as USA Basketball.

Q. The whole world has fatigue with COVID. Now you have upticks, concerns. Disheartening a little bit?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Yeah, it's definitely concerning, a little disappointing as far as the pandemic coming back up again, with the cases rising. You see it happened over here. We all just got to find a way to stay safe, be careful with it all.

Q. In the last game you had 22 assists and only five turnovers. Is that the kind of offensive effort you want for the rest of the series?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: For sure. Moving the ball has been a big emphasis these last couple games. Playing through their shifts, their helps, driving and kicking a little bit more. Keeping our turnovers down is huge for us. Getting a shot up every offensive possession is huge, knowing the way we haven't been shooting the ball as well as we wanted. As long as we get up a shot, it gives us a good chance to score points.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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