July 19, 2021
Q. I think for your abilities Game 4 wasn't great and probably the first half of Game 5 wasn't great. In that comeback, you played really well in that fourth quarter. Did anything sort of you notice differently that you could take advantage of tomorrow, or was it just shots started falling again?
CHRIS PAUL: I don't know. I sort of gauge things off wins and losses as far as me. It ain't necessarily how many points, assists or whatnot. Obviously, turnovers is something I try to keep down. But just try to be aggressive. Obviously, making shots helps. But being aggressive on both ends, not just offensively but defensively too.
Q. We know that you write "can't give up now" on your shoe. That's even something some fans have kind of gravitated toward or caught on to just for these last couple of games. How much are you leaning into that motto right now even more just given what that team is facing?
CHRIS PAUL: Yeah, just throughout this whole playoff run, this is our first elimination game. So it's for real. It's no looking back now. We got to come out, be ready to play and it's either win or go home.
Q. How have you seen your teammates kind of respond in that same way?
CHRIS PAUL: I think everybody has just been talking about embracing it. Coach has said all season long, everything you want is on the other side of hard, and it doesn't get any harder than this. So we know that this is a must-win game for us. Nothing more than that. Now we got to hoop.
Q. Seems like every time Khris Middleton, if you defend him he kind of takes advantage of the height and does the isolation. So for the next game, what do you need from your teammates if you play one-on-one with him again?
CHRIS PAUL: Just keep making them be tough shots. If he makes it, it's going to be tough. I think they went the whole third quarter without missing a shot. What do you they say? Good offense beats good defense any day. But at some point we got to make them miss. I think that's what we're going to try to do in Game 6.
Q. In the first two games when you won you were taking almost 40 three-pointers a game as a team. The last few games it's been a lot lower than that. Game 5, you were even below 20. You and Devin are two of the great mid-range scorers in the league, but do you think you need to extend your range back a little more to maximize those opportunities?
CHRIS PAUL: I think we just got to figure out a way to generate more threes. If that's penetrating -- it doesn't have to be me and Devin. That's the way we have played all season long, is penetrating the gaps, finding 'Kal, Cam, Jae, all the different guys on our team for threes. And obviously when you lose a game and you look at it, you analyze it, you're like, oh, I should have shot more threes. You know it's a lot of what they call Monday-morning quarterbacks. But we have had a way that we have played all season long, and we're going to try to play that way Game 6.
Q. There is an inherent pressure that comes with an elimination game in the NBA Finals, of course. But is there any excitement for someone like yourself, who spent literally your entire life trying to conquer the game of basketball, master it, tinker with it? Like, this is the ultimate level?
CHRIS PAUL: It's definitely exciting. Something that Coach and everybody has been saying: If you went to the beginning of the season and said we had a chance to be where we are right now, would you take it? Absolutely. Absolutely. And we get a chance to determine the outcome. It's not like the game is going to be simulated or somebody else got to play. We get a chance. We control our own destiny. So I think that's the exciting part about it.
Knowing who we have in our locker room, knowing what we're capable of and all the things that we have been through all season long -- I mean, we wish we didn't have to wait as many days as we got to, but it is what it is.
Q. During the Nets series P.J. Tucker had kind of told me that the times he gets the most mad is when guys would help him on KD. He wanted that one-on-one. If KD scores, KD scores, but don't help. They're kind of doing something similar to Book, where they're not going to help as much. That's going to be, hey, we're going to live with this if Book gets 40, Book gets 40. How do you try to get Book to approach that, knowing that maybe part of the reason why you're not getting as many threes is they are wanting him to be the scorer and not involve as many other people?
CHRIS PAUL: Yeah, I ain't going to lie to you. I don't know their strategy. You know what I mean? I'm not in their locker room. I don't know what they got going on over there. All we can control is what we do. So we're going to continue to play our game. Book is one of the best to ever do this. So we're going to figure it out.
Q. Just going over Game 5, what did you feel like were a couple things, now that you've seen the film, that's just like -- Jae was just talking about breakdowns. He's like, we just can't have that. Is that what this simply comes down to or is it something bigger than that?
CHRIS PAUL: Yeah, turnovers, fouls at certain times. Every time we sort of made a breakdown or missed an assignment, they made a shot. So if we can limit the amount of mistakes that happen -- look, you don't play a perfect game. Everybody would love to play a perfect game, but it's not that way. I think if we can cover up for each other and just have each other's back. Then at the end of the day, as long as we go out there and play hard and compete, we can live with that.
Q. Two for you. The other night when you and Devin are side by side and he gets asked about, are you frustrated for Chris? I mean, I can't read his mind, but the takeaway for me was, that this is not about Chris. And a lot of your career has been Chris and his playoff past and this and that. Was that sort of the spirit of why that question doesn't get answered?
CHRIS PAUL: Book back there (in the room). I think it was kind of like a common sense thing. You know what I mean? This is like a team sport. Like, this isn't tennis, this isn't golf. I think we all want to win. So I think it was sort of self-explanatory. That's just me, though.
Q. And I know what your answer here is going to be, but because of your reputation, if you have games where you're not up to your level, folks start saying something must be wrong. Health-wise, are you straight? Are you good? Are you dealing with stuff?
CHRIS PAUL: No, I'm fine. I'm fine. Yeah, I don't know nothing about that. I think for us, we've sort of been in a bubble, you know what I mean? Not the NBA bubble but as far as our team, win or lose, we just stay connected with us and try to figure out what we're going to do. That's sort of what happens in a series, especially when you get to this point.
Q. Milwaukee has had their share of playoff heartbreak. He just mentioned your own. But your team as a whole hasn't been through this sort of playoff process, heartbreak, knowing how to get through it. How do you bridge that gap between giving them your experience but not necessarily bombarding them with it that it becomes overwhelming? Is there a line that you have to walk there?
CHRIS PAUL: No, we're just in it. I think I answered that before the series. This is my first time in the Finals. You know what I mean? So it ain't like, oh, we need to do this or we need to do that. I think for us, we're in it. They're always talking about staying in it and staying with the group. I think for us, all of this is part of it, and we get it. But for us, it's the practices, it's the time in the hotel together and just making sure that at the end of the day we play basketball.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports