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NBA FINALS: WARRIORS VS. RAPTORS

June 7, 2019

Nick Nurse

Oakland, California - Pregame 4

Q. Obviously Steph got his in Game 3, but what did you like about the way Fred was able to defend him in the second half that kept him in there, and how much do you anticipate matching their minutes again tonight?
NICK NURSE: Well, I think that the overall defense, what they shoot percentage-wise and how we rebound the ball percentage-wise is really all we're concerned about on a team level. And that was going okay. I thought one of the things our guys did a lot better I thought was shot contest. Everybody. When -- I don't know, an example, Jerebko was open, we ran out hard and contested him, or Iguodala was open, we ran out and challenged.

That was -- our team defense is get it set up, put some pressure on the ball. If there's a problem, help each other, and then make sure we contest a shot, anybody, get out there and fly at it to try and make them miss. And I was more pleased with that as an overall team effort than anything.

Q. Whether it's the Finals or a game in October, when the other team, when the opponent has is this person in the rotation, how much is Klay going to play, Kevon Looney probably is going to give it a go tonight at some level, how much does that affect you at all, or are you -- no matter the stakes, are you just more focused on your rotation and what you're going to do?
NICK NURSE: I just -- a couple things. When you grow up coaching in the minor leagues or other leagues like this, especially the minor leagues, you don't know who is playing until about an hour before every game, sometimes 10 minutes before. So you get used to just not really letting that hit your radar very much.

I always say sometimes when you're playing a really, really, really good team, they only get to put five guys out there just like we do. Deep teams, they can only put five out at a time or whatever, five guys are going to be out there, and we'll have to make adjustments on the fly, but you do that every game.

When the ball goes up, things start happening and you start changing matchups and changing who is guarding who and what coverages you're in depending upon how the game's flowing.

Again, we need to put in a great, great effort here, ourselves. We know which of our guys are going to be out there, and those guys that hit the floor need to put in an a great effort. And if they do that, then they will put themselves in a, give ourselves a chance to win.

Q. Obviously go back to Fred for a second. There's been a lot of talk about obviously him having a kid during the Conference Finals, and up until then he was struggling a lot with his shot, and it's obviously changed since then. Is there something to be said for a guy like that who is in a bit of a slump having a chance to kind of clear his mind and kind of get himself turned around?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, maybe. I think that more than anything, though, we always use the term just keep playing, right? I think each game things can change dramatically. Just because, I don't knows, somebody gets 29 in Game 1 of a series doesn't mean they're going to average 29 for the series. You may not see that again. Or just because a guy goes 11-8 or 0-7 or something doesn't mean he's not going to make his next one or have a good 4-6 game the next night.

I think that's all can you do, and I think that's what he did. I think he started playing good after a 1-12 game, and I remember I didn't even know he was 1-12. I think, Josh, I think you kept telling me about it after the game and --

Q. 1-11.
NICK NURSE: Yeah, 1-11, and I didn't even know it because that was the game Kyle fouled out with six to go that went to double overtime, and I thought he played so great, I was in there singing his praises in the press conference, and someone said, you know, he was 1-11, and I said no, I didn't know because he was running hard and making plays. And I think just keep playing. Some nights the ball is going in, some nights it isn't. But just impact the game with anyway you can, not just with your shooting or your scoring.

Q. I've been speaking with assistant coach Patrick Mutombo. He said you bought about three of his art pieces. One, how unique is it to have an assistant coach who is an artist? And two, what is it like having him as an assistant coach?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, he's really talented. It's really cool. I think he's really, really talented as an artist in a number of paintings, sculptor, everything. I've been to one of his shows, and he had a lot on display.

So he's really interesting. He made a great painting for me that's hanging in my office that was -- kind of kicked off our preseason. I really like it. It will hang there for a long time, I hope.

But more than that, he's a good basketball guy. He's played around the world. I've actually coached against him in the minors, and he played in Belgium where I coached as well. He's a thoughtful person and gives us a lot of help with what he does, both player development and with coaching.

Q. How much satisfied are you with the level your team is playing, and how much do you think you can get better to complete and win the championship?
NICK NURSE: Well, most of the time I'm pretty happy with our effort. I think if the games that we come and play really hard, you come out of the game and you say, man, the Raptors played hard tonight, then that's always a great starting point. When we do that, our defense is usually pretty good. And then I always think that jump starts our offense as well.

That was a big factor in the game the other night. We held them to pretty low percentage. We were out in transition a lot. But we continue to improve. It's a mindful group. We have learned a lot in the last two months, and hopefully we just keep on getting a little bit better, tweaking a little bit more, learning each other a little bit more, finding a little more ways we can play harder and give effort together. Fight through adversity a little more together. As long as we need to.

Q. Kind of along those lines, how important do you think the sort of the collective basketball IQ of this team has been in terms of handling things like load management and different lineups and stuff like that, and how good has this team been with adjustments as the playoffs go along because of their smarts?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean, it is a really smart team, right, there's a lot of veteran guys that are high IQ players, there's a lot of defensive intelligence there. There's a lot of accolades among those guys. All-Defensive Team, Defensive Players of the Year, and that helps.

I mean, that helps when you're trying to make adjustments in the game, you throw something at them maybe they have never seen before, and they go out and do it pretty well because they have been around the block. And they also trust each other. That's important. It makes my job a lot easier, I tell you that.

Q. How long had you been looking at the idea of starting Fred with the other starters, just because 1 through 4 you guys have been stable since basically November when everybody had been available? And more broadly, you spoke at the beginning of the playoffs about trying to make adjustments and changes while you're doing well and while you're doing poorly, but in realtime, when the results are going decently, how much tougher is it to actually make a big change like that one?
NICK NURSE: Well, I thought about it a little bit throughout the year. I think just gives us a different look. You know the look. We played Kyle and Fred together a lot, and it gives us kind of a double push, two guys that can push it up the floor, two guys that can take it off the bounce, two guys that can run the team. And mostly it helps Kyle get off the ball and get up the floor and Fred can get us into stuff.

So we have thought about that. That was the primary reason we did it, was for an offensive pace boost, and it was a little tricky the other night. I kind of went in there with my mind made up we were going to do that going into the game, and Danny had it going pretty good there in the first half and almost screwed it up for me a little bit.

But he took it great. He came right back in and knocked a couple more in, and I thought he played great defensively the other night, Danny that is, and we'll see if we do it tonight.

But to answer the last part of your question, it's a tricky thing I think in the playoffs. You have to make adjustments even when you're winning. You have to fix things and change things and change matchups and rotations and all those things because, I don't know, I just feel that you have to. If you don't, then you're going to be making them after a loss if you don't.

Q. Who really has the pressure on them tonight, certainly the Warriors are in a situation where they want to even up the series again, but you guys can really push them to the brink with a win tonight.
NICK NURSE: That's probably up for you guys to decide. Again, whether we're up 2-1 or down 2-1, like we have been in other series, or down 2-0 or blah, blah, blah, we're not really -- we haven't really talked about the score of the series at all the entire playoffs. We have tried to just isolate every game.

We know they're all critical, right? I mean, they're all critical. And it changes. I guess all I know is you need to win four, and you can't win four until you win three, I think, if my math is good there, yeah. Take them one at a time.

Q. You guys have won -- since leaving Milwaukee, you guys have won five of your last six or your previous six games. What's been the switch? Did you flip the proverbial switch, or what's been the change in mindset, in the team chemistry about these last -- the run you guys are currently on?
NICK NURSE: I don't think there's been a switch that's been flipped or anything. I thought we flipped a switch about Game 2 against Orlando. We played really poorly in Game 1 to open the playoffs, and then from then on we have played a lot better defense, a lot harder, with a lot more connection.

And I think we're slowly getting better each time we step on the floor. Even if we don't get the result, I think we went down 2-0 in Milwaukee, and I don't think our guys were -- they weren't happy, but they weren't really upset or bothered or worried. We kind of thought we won six of the eight quarters in Milwaukee and came out of there 0-2.

But we didn't have anything to show for it, and we thought we, if we kept playing and fixed a couple things, that we would have something to show for it.

So just playing hard, man. That's the main thing for us.

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