Al Horford Psyched After Game Winning Steal vs The Thunder

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    Re: Your steal from Russell Westbrook changing the game in the final seconds

    “Kyrie was great because he got in his [Russell Westbrook] way. I think he might even have tipped it and I was able to come up with the ball. That was a big stop for us.”

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    Oklahoma City Thunder
    Head Coach Billy Donovan

    Re: It seemed like you guys weren’t quite there on some of your rotations tonight

    “Yeah, I didn’t think it was a great defensive game for us.  I thought our three-point defense in the first half was good.  I didn’t think it was great in the second half.  I think they obviously have a highly skilled team.  Especially, when (Al) Horford is at the five because of his ability to handle and pass.  So he kind of connects them a little bit and really puts you in rotation.  There were times we did a good job and times we didn’t. I didn’t think we did it long enough and well enough over a 48 minute period.”

    What could you have done better on some of their back cuts?

    I think the physicality without fouling was a big piece.  I thought we did a better job.  I think that was part of the reason we got the lead early in the third quarter. We were a little bit more disruptive, a little more physical, a little more challenging to them. They came out of that timeout and responded well.  Every time we got close, they made some really, really good plays, made some big shots.  You have to give them credit too.  I think our defense wasn’t nearly what it has been and can be and should be for us.”

     

    Terrance Ferguson                             

    What were the positives and negatives to take away from this game?

    “I know negatives were just one-on-one defense, number of passes, open shots.  I mean, we lost so I can’t really think of any positives right now.  Like I said, one-on-one defense and open shots killed us.”

    What challenges does defending Kyrie Irving pose?

    “I mean, he is one of the best one-on-one players in the league.  Just keeping your feet still, trying to stay in front of him and having help on defense.  That’s the only challenge I can see him having but like I said, he is one of the best so he don’t really come across many challenges for himself.”

    What are the challenges when playing a team like Boston, who always seem to make that extra pass?

    “Stopping Kyrie first, that is pretty much it.  Stopping Kyrie, helping our help defenses.  Hopefully, rotating fast enough because like I said, open shots killed us and one-on-one defense.”

    Dennis Schroder

    What ended up not going your way down the stretch?

    “I mean, they had some tough shots.  I think we had a hell of an effort on the defensive end in the fourth quarter.  They hit some tough shots and got to give them credit.”

    What was the difference defensively during some stretches of this game compared to others?

    “I think just being physical.  I think in the third quarter we did a great job of being physical, playing with energy, playing with our hands and got some steals and got out and transitioned.  We’ve got to do it for 48 minutes and we didn’t do it tonight.”

    Boston Celtics
    Head Coach Brad Stevens

    Re: No (Bill Belichick-inspired) hoodie this year (on Superbowl Sunday at the post-game press conference)

    “Didn’t win (last year’s Super Bowl).  I’m not superstitious as a coach; I’m superstitious as a fan.  So.”

    Re: Eight of nine players had double-digit points today

    “That’s good team basketball. A lot of guys did a lot of things. I thought they were all very active.  We had a day where we made shots, and we needed every one of them.  You know, obviously, I think Oklahoma City plays as hard as anybody in the league and comes at you non-stop for 48 minutes, and we needed all those points from all those different guys. I thought we got a lot of good performances.”

    Re: Marcus Smart’s and Terry Rozier’s impact

    “Yeah, they were both really good. And Marcus’s little run at the end of the third quarter probably cut into Terry’s minutes a little bit, because he was going to go in for him, but both guys were really good.  Both guys were really engaged. And I thought Terry’s three, after they made that little come-back, was huge. Just kind of pushed it out. Now, you never felt comfortable with the way they were coming at us.”

    Re: Running early, and establishing transition to set the tone

    “Well I think both teams really wanted to run. We’ve been trying to emphasize it more. I still don’t think we’re where need to be, or where we can be maybe, but they killed us in transition. And first half they had 26 points. I don’t know what they had in the second, but it sure felt like they were coming at us the whole day.  Whenever you’re playing against really good defenses, if you can get a few easy ones that’s helpful.”

    Re: Teams entered today tied for second in defensive rating; neither was able to stop the other defensively

    “Now we’re both tied for eighth…”    “I thought we made shots. I don’t know if they’ll look at it and feel the same way, but I thought ultimately that was a big, big deal.  We moved it, we made some good plays, we attacked the paint first and then we had some big possessions where we made them.    You know, sometimes it boils down to that. But both teams did play fast. Both teams made it hard to set your defense.            And there’s good players on both sides. And we had a lot of guys step up and make a lot of good plays, and then Kyrie (Irving) put the icing on it at the end.”

    Re: Chemistry between Al Horford and Kyrie Irving

    “It’s been pretty good for the last year and a half.  Al really looks for everyone, but you can tell he’s got a special dynamic there with Kyrie.  Kyrie did a really good job in the first half, especially –      they were playing on top of him on a lot of his cuts; playing on top of him to try to eliminate some action coming up to the middle of the court, and he got some back cuts, he got some tip ins, he got some plays in and around the rim that were great, just, you know, basketball plays by him.  But then him and Al, on the side and high picks, those are things that have been good to us for the last year and a half and I thought they did a good job of that again. Against a good pick and roll defensive team.”

    Al Horford

    How tough was this matchup?

    “It was very tough. They have a very good team and they play very well defensively. They are a type of team that never gives up. We had a few chances in there in the fourth to put them away and they just kept coming back. It feels good to get this win.”

    Re: Your steal from Russell Westbrook changing the game in the final seconds

    “Kyrie was great because he got in his [Russell Westbrook] way. I think he might even have tipped it and I was able to come up with the ball. That was a big stop for us.”

     

     

    Kyrie Irving

    Re: The team’s ability to pull off a win

    “Obviously we were fortunate on a few of them. But down the stretch we have been in that position a few times this season. We know our go-to’s and know what we have to do to compete on both ends of the floor to get a win.”

    Re: Your chemistry with Al Horford

    “He is a smart basketball player who is able to make reads. Knowing what he is capable of for the years that he has played in the league. Trust him with the past and trust him with decisions.”