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Playoff Quote Sheet: 04/18/2014

Notable quotes from the Rockets' media session following Friday's practice

HOUSTON - Notable quotes from the Rockets' media session following Friday's practice:

KEVIN MCHALE           

(How does playoff basketball differ from regular season?)

You play the same team day after day, so that changes (things). Yesterday we had a film session, today preparation, tomorrow preparation – the same thing they’re doing so you’re just more prepared.

Everybody is 0-0. You have to look at what worked and didn’t work. It’s a different animal. What you did in the regular season, you can take some things that maybe you struggled against and work on defensively, and you can take some things that you did well offensively and see if they’re not going to make some changes, but it’s a game of everybody is going to make little adjustments.

(how much of being a great closer like Harden or Lillard goes beyond their skills and into their mindset and mentality?)

Skill level is part of it, but having the ability and the courage to stand up and take and make big shots … some guys don’t do that.

(have you seen that develop in Harden?)

Yeah, I think James has really made big shots and big 3s for us when we’re down. He’s just made a lot of big shots all year long. We go to him in the end and he’s also made big plays; he’s made plays where he’s driven in and thrown it out to get us back in the game when we needed it. He threw a couple passes (Saturday night against New Orleans) to Patrick Beverley in the left corner for 3s. He’s doing a good job of understanding that it’s not always taking the shot, it’s just making the play.

(on LaMarcus Aldridge)

He’s a helluva player. When he gets loose he’s a tough shot maker, he can shoot over the top. We’re going to give him some different looks, we’re going to do some different things to try to get him off his game, but he’s one of those guys where if he’s making those tough, turnaround fadeaways, it’s hard.

(If you choose to go with Dwight and Omer together, do you think it will work better than it did earlier in the year?)

I think the ball is playing ahead of our bigs more than it was, and we’re not waiting for them (the bigs) as much. I think everybody is a little bit more comfortable with what we’re doing, so yeah, you hope it works better.

(how much of a possibility is it that you would use that look?)

It’s possible.

We haven’t done it a lot lately. They were effective earlier at stages, and this might be one of those games where if we’re having a heck of a time with Aldridge we might try one of our big centers on him.

(on using Beverley and Lin together)

They’re going to play together and they’ll give each other rest. Look, Lillard is a handful, they come in with Mo Williams who has been a handful for us. So they’re a very good basketball team. They’ve beaten us up a little bit on the boards. We have to take care of the boards and we can’t get beaten up on the defensive glass. We have to be able to rebound, and then we have to be able to attack those guys, get the ball in the paint and go downhill on them and attack them.


(These teams know each other very well. How does that play out in a series like this?)

It comes down to the little things - execution on plays, their tendencies and our tendencies, and the small things. They do a great job of offensive rebounding the basketball and giving themselves second opportunities so we have to do a good job of rebounding the basketball and pushing it and getting out to how we like to play.

(thoughts on the possibility of playing Howard and Asik together?)

It’s good. Omer and Dwight have done a phenomenal job against LaMarcus. That’s who we’re going to need to slow him down. He’s their go-to guy and if we can slow him down it will kind of boggle up their offense a little bit.

(thoughts on the matchup?)

It’s going to be a great series. There are so many guys that can score for them and for us. It’s going to be a matter of the small things: who can limit their turnovers and rebound the basketball.

(how are you feeling entering the playoffs this year versus how you felt last year?)

A lot more confident. I think last year that first round playoff series gave us a little taste of what it feels like to be in the playoffs, especially for the guys who had never really been there. So we kind of are familiar with the playoffs now and can just go out there and play basketball the normal way. For them, they have a couple guys who are new to the playoffs so hopefully that will give us a little bit of an advantage.

(how do you feel like you’ve grown personally from last year’s playoffs to this year’s?)

My overall game (has grown). This is my second year as being the guy, so just knowing what to expect, seeing different defenses throughout the regular season, having bad games and knowing how to bounce back and knowing how to fight through them. So many experiences that I’ve been through these last two years that have helped me prepare for this time.

(How much better do you feel now in late-game situations?)

More confident. More confident with the ball in my hands and making plays whether it’s me scoring the basketball or making the right play. It’s all about decision-making. My teammates have a lot of confidence in me to make the right play and they’re going to be ready at all times.


(thoughts on the possibility of playing Howard and Asik together?)

It definitely gives us a different look. We tried it earlier and the spacing and flow of our offense didn’t work as well as we planned, but they’re two of the top centers in the league and just to have that luxury where we can go that big could help us in the playoffs.

(how much could it help against Portland?)

It could help us a lot just because sometimes Dwight is going to get caught guarding LaMarcus and we might need (Asik) to go in there, rebound, and help protect the rim guarding Lopez. So just to be able to throw different lineups and different looks at them – go big or small – we can do a lot of different things with our personnel.

(how helpful is last year’s playoff experience now?)

Yeah, we know what we’re getting ourselves into. Obviously adding Dwight, who’s been there multiple times, helps. Last year was the first time I had played in the playoffs and I know Game 1 I was so nervous. This year, since All-Star break it’s like, ‘Where are playoffs? When are the playoffs here?’ And now they’re finally here so its more of an excited feeling rather than nervous this time around.

(different mentality this time around?)

Yeah, just being here this year is not good enough. It wasn’t last year either but it was our first time being there and it was new for us. But this year we’re not happy just being there, we’re not happy just having home-court; we want to win and we want to contend for a championship and we want to be the last team standing.

(on playoff basketball being more of a half-court game)

Sometimes during the playoffs you can’t go up and down. We’re not going to be able to play at the pace we want to play all series long. When you play a team possibly seven times, they’re going to take away what you do best, they’re going to take away your sets, and it’s a big key to have a guy like Dwight to go inside and slow it down and be able to run a half-court set and be able to move the ball inside and out, and we didn’t really have that last year.

(on Harden as a closer)

Y’all saw it just like I saw it all year long. He’s unbelievable in the fourth quarter, he’s one of the best scorers in the league, he can get his shot off against anybody. The big thing for him is just to play, go have fun, continue to be aggressive, and understand that they’re going to throw a lot of coverages at him, they’re going to double-team him and over-help on him and he’s just got to make the simple play.


(how do you approach this series and Damian Lillard?)

It’s good that we got home-court and we have to try to take advantage of that. Regarding Damian Lillard, he’s a phenomenal point guard, All-Star caliber point guard, he’s been doing a good job leading his team, especially where they’ve come last year to now. He can shoot the ball off the dribble, he’s dangerous from 3, he’s got a lot of tools. It’s really hard for a defense to set on a player that can really shoot the ball and he can shoot it with the best of them.

(on his one-on-one battles with Lillard)

There’s no personal battles at all. It’s a team game. It’s the Houston Rockets versus the Portland Trail Blazers, not Patrick Beverley versus Damian Lillard.

(How much did you guys learn from last year’s playoff experience?)

A lot. We fought, we came up short. Of course they were (missing Russell Westbrook) but you can’t take that away from us. We did fight, but we came up short and lost in six games. We showed a lot of true character coming back from being down 0-3. We learned from that. The taste has been in our mouth since training camp to get to this point and we’re here now.

(thoughts on the possibility of playing Howard and Asik together?)

We played them before against Portland and we were successful. If it aint broke don’t fix it.

(Where are you physically right now?)

I’m great. I’m Wolverine.


(how do you feel about where the team is right now?)

We’ve come a long way. I told you guys at the beginning of the year we were going to be a lot better at the end of the year than we were at the beginning. For our first year together, we’ve accomplished a lot of things. We’re not pleased with what we’ve done so far, but we’re happy with our progress.

It’s go time. This is what we play for – a championship. This is why we’re here. This is the reason why I chose this place and this team. I felt like we had a great opportunity and I don't want to take any moment for granted.

You can’t be satisfied with being good – we want to be great. So we’re taking steps toward being great and we just have to keep going.

(what are you focusing on with this matchup?)

We have to keep them off the offensive glass. We have to do a good job on LaMarcus. He shoots a lot of shots, especially midrange shots, so we want to contest those shots and try to keep him from his sweet spots.

(thoughts on the possibility of playing together with Asik?)

I think it could help because they’ve got a guy in Robin Lopez who’s a great offensive rebounder, he’s a big body so me and (Asik) are probably the two best big men defenders on the whole team, so having us matched up on LaMarcus, making it tough for him to get to the basket but also being physical with him for seven games is going to be tough.

I think the biggest thing is just staying out of foul trouble. If we stay out of foul trouble, we’ll be fine.

(on the environment in Portland)

They call it Rip City for a reason: ‘rest in peace’ to the other team – it’s tough to play there. Their fans are great, they’re always into the games, they’re loud, so we don’t want them to get the crowd involved. That’s the biggest thing in the playoffs is keeping the crowd quiet. If we can do that and shut the crowd out, we’ll be tough.

(on the game slowing down in the playoffs)

We have to do a good job of playing our game, of getting up and down the floor, but also when the game slows down being able to play inside-out – not just through the post, but also our guys driving and attacking the basket and making it tough for those bigs. When James and Jeremy are playing downhill, it’s tough for those guys to guard so we want to do a good job of those guys attacking the basket and making Robin Lopez and their other bigs commit or stay home; if they commit to the ball the lob is there, and if they don’t then they can finish down the lane.

(what does it mean to be in this position after making the decision to join this team last summer?)

It means a lot. From the first day that I arrived, this team has shown nothing but love. I’m thankful to be here in this city. The fans have been amazing. My teammates have been great. (Rockets owner Leslie Alexander) has been amazing. So I want to show them my gratitude by going out and giving everything I’ve got for this playoff run, and hopefully I end up in the championship.