“Maybe the offense just flows better if he’s not taking all the shots,” some have speculated. “Maybe Terry Rozier’s improved performance as a starter illustrates how Irving holds him (and everybody else) back.”
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Re: Aron Baynes’ impact tonight
“I thought he was really good. I thought again the bench came in that first quarter and did a great job of getting us a lead, and then – and then we didn’t play very well in the last eight minutes or so of the second quarter – and then, you know, early on in the third it was kind of going back and forth and we just kind of decided that it’s better to be big against these guys as much as we could. And, you know it’s the first time we’ve played Al (Horford) and Baynes together. Mentioned it pre-game; we’ll probably see more of that as the time goes on because it – Baynes gives you such a defensive presence and he was good on the glass offensively as well.”
Re: Putting Kyrie Irving back in the game relatively early in the fourth quarter
“He told us at the end of the third he was good to go, so it was a short break and then he played most of the second half, probably 19 of the 24 minutes, maybe 20 of the 24 minutes. But I thought he picked his spots well tonight. They came out of the game; (Marc) Gasol’s usually back in pick-and-roll and Gasol was trapping him, or hard showing at the very least on him. And he had to be a passer out of those situations and he did a good job spraying the ball. And then once things backed off a little bit, then he was able to pick his spots and make plays. I thought it was a patient, really good, smart attack by him.”
Re: Getting burned defensively by corner threes
“We were small, and so when they were getting us on switches and getting us into the post we were overhelping – maybe not overhelping; we were recognizing the biggest threat and getting two sucked in and giving up the corner. Especially at the end of the second quarter, you’ll see we had a small guy on the post and guys were trying to kick him out of there and as a result they moved the ball quickly, they did a good job, they got open corner threes. It’s one of the reasons why we felt like we had to go big.”
Re: Marcus Smart’s consistency
“I thought he was going to have a really good shooting year last year. He put in a lot of time and work over the summer and then he had a couple of hand injuries and I think that that set him back for that season. But you could see that there was a foundation there that was going to really pay off. You know, he’s always made big shots but you could see that his shot had really improved, so it was unfortunate about the injuries. And then this year, it’s looked good all year.”
Re: Staying patient while Gordon Hayward has ups and downs as he works his way back
“I just think when you’re playing off the bench you can’t – you’re not going to always be able to judge yourself or have others judge you based on how many points you score. You know, there’s a lot of other things that you do in a game. So, if he has 16 one night but 10 the next or six the next, he could still be impacting the game just as much because he’s forced to be a passer, maybe he’s defending a different position, you know, who knows? So, I think he’s been pretty consistent; he missed some shots today, but he didn’t get very many opportunities. We had other looks that were good as well, and I thought our guys played aggressive and took the right ones. There’s going to be nights where those guys off the bench get more opportunity to shoot and there’s going to be nights where there’s not as much, and that’s one of the challenges of being in that role.”
What makes Memphis a difficult team to play against?
“That’s a physical team. Led well. Michael Conley, Marc Gasol, tough as they come. So they came out and played really tough.”
What changed in the second half, particularly with Kyrie Irving?
“He got it going. We got it going. Started moving the ball. Got it going. Hit some shots. Got some stops. Kept it going.”
What’s been the key to the second unit coming in and taking over near the end of the first?
“Just stepping up. Answering the challenge. Just coming out and playing good basketball. Being the best versions of ourselves. That’s it.”
Anything special behind your being in the zone tonight?
“No. Just working all season, and I feel like my work is finally paying off. Got a good team to work and hopefully it continues to pay off.”
Re Brad (Stevens) saying this could have happened last year but injuries got in the way:
“I definitely, definitely felt the same way. I take a catastrophic injury with my hand a few times, so it kind of delayed the process. I thank God that everything’s going on track and on plan for me, and I’ve just been working to get better to break through.”