Keys to the Game
That's What He Said: Hawks vs. Celtics - Game 3

That's What He Said: Hawks vs. Celtics - Game 3

Brad Stevens

RE: The game:

I knew we would start with great energy because our guys were hurting a little bit from Tuesday but I was really worried that we would be – you know, I don’t know, for any of you that have ever run the mile, you run the first lap, breakneck speed, and then about the third lap, it just feels like you’re never going to make the last two laps. And I thought that we were starting to wear down, obviously, after we took that 19 point lead. But then Isaiah made huge play after huge play. But then everybody made plays to kind of keep it at bay after they tied it and then push it out at the end. I thought the basket at the end of the fourth quarter – or third quarter – was huge, by Jonas (Jerebko) and starting the fourth quarter off with a couple of buckets was big too, just to kind of get ourselves right. Because it’s hard when (Kyle) Korver gets going like that, those guys get driving down hill – they’re a good team. It’s hard.

RE: Jonas Jerebko's performance:

He plays really, really, hard. He’s got versatility with regard to defensively. It’s really hard to switch onto (Jeff) Teague and (Dennis) Schroder, but all of our bigs have to do that some as they get going downhill on you. And then his scoring is just a plus. You know, if he scores, he scores; if not, he’s still spacing for us. And so they have to honor that. And he had a big driving basket with his left hand in the fourth quarter, he had the big basket at the end of the third quarter, but then his defense was really great all night, I thought.

RE: Getting his first playoff win:

It’s great. It’s better than the alternative. But this team’s too good to do anything but focus on what’s next.

RE: The energy in the TD Garden:

Players, crowd, everybody. I mean, it was a great environment. Both teams were competing. Sometimes when you’re competing it gets physical. But I didn’t think – obviously the flagrants, I’ll have to go back and look at them, but obviously they were fouls where they got hit in the head. But I didn’t feel like there was anything on either side that was over the line, from my impression when I was watching. So, again, I haven’t really seen the flagrants and I’ll have to go back and look at them. But I thought both teams competed. I mean, we have a lot of respect for them. They’re competitive, savvy, tough guys.

RE: Boston's starting group:

I said yesterday, or today, that Evan has the ability to get inside the paint, ability to score a little bit in that regard, as did (Marcus) Smart for us a lot in the fourth quarter. We had Smart with the ball a lot; he made a lot of good plays. But those four guys are pretty interchangeable with regard to minutes and everything else. But then Jonas’ versatility – because they play, they played (Mike) Muscala in the first half of all three games now, but have gone small in all three in the second. So you’re going to have to guard the three point line and Jonas can help do that.

RE: Isaiah Thomas' career night:

Well, I really believe this, I said it before the game – like, he played, he did a lot of what he did all year in the first two games, it was just everybody was at the rim to challenge him. We made a couple shots, that loosens up a little bit, and then we got some movement before the drive which loosens it up a little bit. He’s a really good player and he’s a really competitive guy and so I’m not surprised when he plays well.

RE: Marcus Smart's improvement:

Well I think that his ability to run pick and rolls and his ability to make passes and kick across or have an act and finish are all improving and he’s worked hard on them; that was probably what he worked the hardest on in the off-season, along with his shooting, which I think will continue to improve in both of those areas. But I thought he did a good job, and it helps when the other point guard makes a couple threes too. You know, Terry (Rozier) came in and gave us great minutes again, so that’s a really positive is you look at you’ve got two guys under 22 making big plays in big moments.

RE: Not getting "traditional" good looks on offense:

We hit a couple of traditional good looks but we weren’t shy in shooting those long twos, which sometimes you’re open and you’ve got to shoot them. You know, we didn’t want to be hesitant; this is an excellent defense we’re playing against, they do a great job of protecting the paint, protecting the three point line, so we had to take our best shot and be aggressive in doing that.

RE: If this was a game that Boston had to have:

We don’t really talk in terms of ‘has to have,’ but we talk in terms of ‘have to compete.’ Like, Tuesday was tough. It wasn’t like our guys didn’t want to compete; they just got hit with a buzz saw in the first four minutes and we were out of it. And we just got knocked out of it. And so again, I knew we were going to compete tonight; I was just worried that we were going to run the first lap of the mile too fast and not have anything at the end of the day, but we did. We did both. It was good.

RE: Isaiah Thomas' green light on offense:

Can’t get any more green than playing here. He can shoot it whenever he’s open or thinks he’s open.

RE: Living with Isaiah Thomas' "bad" shots:

I’m rolling with it. I think we all – I think that everybody in that locker room is saying the same thing, and we believe in all of our guys making shots. I said before he game I thought we were going to make more shots. You can never predict that stuff. Doesn’t mean you’re going to win, but I thought we’d shoot it better.

RE: Evan Turner:

Evan’s a good player. We need Evan to be able to play-make and shoot and score for us. He’s shot the three well over the last couple of months but he’s really good in that middle area and making pull-ups and creating pull-ups and those type of things. Like I said earlier, that was going to be – we were going to have to take some of those and he’s been a big part of us for the past two years. I’m glad he’s here.
Isaiah Thomas

RE: Being one of few Celtics players to have ever scored 40+ points:

I’m just glad we got the win first and foremost, but that makes me feel happy, just to be in the same category as those great players. I just want to fall in the footsteps of all the Celtics greats I know, that starts by winning then other than winning, winning championships. We are far from that, but I still want my name up there so I am happy about that.

RE: What he attributes his strong performance to:

My coaches and my teammates, coach made adjustments and he just put me in a better position to be successful. First and foremost, I was just in attack mode, I was trying to do whatever it takes to win this game and my teammates kept feeding me and putting me in the right spots and the shots was falling, so that’s all I did. I got the easy part, my teammates helped me out a lot and coach does a great job adjusting.

RE: What Allen Iverson and Isiah Thomas said to him before the game:

Allen Iverson just said keep fighting, they did what they were supposed to do in Atlanta, now it's time for you guys to take advantage of being at home. Then Isiah Thomas just gave me a few tips I cant tell you guys about. He told me what he has seen and he helped me out a lot.

RE: What Jonas Jerebko gives to the C's:

Space, space and opportunity. He is a hell of a shooter, the Hawks and everybody in the NBA got to respect his shooting ability. He just gives me space to work and I'm glad he got his opportunity tonight and he was the difference maker. I mean, he spaced the floor for everybody, he is always in the right spots and it makes it tough to guard when you got a shooter like that to stretch the floor and knock down shots and also attack the paint and he did a hell of a job tonight.
Jonas Jerebko

RE: The energy he brought to the game:

Yeah you know, one of the things coach said to just come out and play your game you know, the first two games we came out flat and I just wanted to bring that energy at the start of the game and start the game off right. Got a little lucky there on Isaiah’s miss there and that started the game off right.

RE: Being able to guard multiple positions:

Yeah, that’s the way we have been playing all year when I’ve been in there and you know he’s been throwing me at the 5 or the 4 or the 3 and we’ve been switching around and you know like Isaiah said, let the other team adjust to what we do. It kind of worked pretty good today, but I think we can do a lot better, he got a couple easy buckets on me and so did Schroder, so that’s something I got to look at the video and take away in the next game.
Evan Turner

RE: Flagrant fouls and physical play:

I think eventually (the ref) called what he had to call. It wasn’t too crazy. You know what I mean? Some of them, technically, you could see how it was. I don’t think any of them were malicious. Except for... Who was the guy who hit Isaiah, the guy with the patch? He hit Isaiah? Yeah. So, that looked pretty crazy and not necessary.

RE: What he expected out of Game 3:

It’s gonna be a tough game. Guys are well scouted. They’re gonna play tough. You know, eventually, when it came down to it in the 4th qtr, we all just played basketball, making tough plays and I think that’s what it comes down to.
Mike Budenholzer

RE: The game:

They played well; they came out with a heck of a first quarter. Isaiah Thomas had a heck of a game. They made a lot of plays, big shots. It's hard to come back when you are down 17 in a quarter, but I think we got back to our footing in the second quarter, defensively got better, offensively got better. Down the stretch a 32 point quarter is too many and they made enough plays. We just got to be mentally smarter and mentally more disciplined. It's good on the road everything becomes a little harder and you just have to be more together, more disciplined and I think we will do that going forward.

RE: The Isaiah Thomas and Dennis Schroder scuffle:

I have seen it back in the locker room. My thoughts are the league will review it; the league does a good job on all things like this and they have high standards and all teams are aware of their emphasis during the playoffs. As far as an explanation, there wasn’t an explanation. There was a double technical and there was no review of the incident in the back court at the free throw line.

RE: Adjustments for Game 4:

You never know, every game is a new game. I thought a lot of guys made shots in that first quarter. Whether Rozier (Terry) a corner three, a Jerebko (Jonas) high quadrant three a lot of guys made enough shots coming out of the gate and I think we got to be better defensively, keeping the ball in front of us better. You have to give them credit and we just have to be better. Whether we’re surprised or whatever word you want to use I think we just got to be better in the first quarter.

RE: Initial thoughts on Boston's starting lineup:

Initial thoughts were changing things up. Jerebko (Jonas) gives them a little more spacing, he’s played well. Evan Turner starting, it's hard to say, those wings between Turner and Smart (Marcus) and Crowder (Jae), I think you can mix and match those guys and he (Brad Stevens) went with Jerebko more as a big and probably a little more spacing, a little more shooting. I think we got to be better defensively and keep them in front of us better.

RE: Atlanta's response to playing in TD Garden:

Our players response could be better but at the same time we were focused, we were ready. They threw a heck of a blow coming out of the first quarter and some nights you’re just on the wrong side of that. Could we be better, yes, but I’m not overly critical of how we responded or how we came out, or how we met expectations being on the road. We need to be better and that includes on a road game there’s lots of things that add up and hopefully we’ll be that going forward.

RE: Isaiah Thomas taking advantage of his looks:

He got 15 free throws so that’s a problem right there. We got to do a better job of keeping him off the free throw line. Maybe more disciplined on pump fakes. 13 is a lot, 15 total free throws and I think he earned them. The three’s, he had five three’s, but some of them were tough; coming off pin-downs, coming off screens. He had a heck of a night. Can we do better, yes. But the free throws that’s a big area of concern. The three’s, some of them were high difficulty, contested difficult and we just got to continue to make every shot he makes difficult and keep him off the free throw line.

RE: Boston's small lineup down the stretch:

They got 32 so that’s a lot of points. I don’t think we defended them well enough. It seemed like there were a few plays where we could finish better in the paint, take care of the ball better, make better decisions. The 4th quarter they made a few more plays. Who was out there, who wasn’t I don’t think it's quite as impactful as us needing to be better and Isaiah Thomas having a big night.
Kyle Korver

RE: Boston's first quarter:

The first quarters have been really important in this series so far. They came out and played great. I’m sure there were mistakes that we made, but it was more them playing really well and feeding off the crowd; the crowd was amazing tonight for them. They hit a bunch of shots early, shots they hadn’t hit in the first two games and caught us on our heels a little bit.

RE: Isaiah Thomas coming off of screens:

It was a really good adjustment that they made and they were setting really good screens. That wasn’t a look that we hadn’t had from him this series. It's something we were talking after the game and we have to be ready for it. But definitely gives him a different look when he’s coming off the screen.

RE: Fighting back from a deficit:

I think we felt confident during the came that we were going to come back and win. We knew they were going to come out and play well. There’s a lot of pride in Boston and in a Celtic jersey and the tradition here and the amazing crowd here. They tried to feed off that and they did. We just kept talking that it's a 48 minute game, it’s a long game, just keep chipping away and we still had our chances and they made some great plays at the end. Things didn’t quite work out our way, but I was proud that we kept on fighting and we had a chance.

RE: Isaiah Thoams' late-game 3-pointer:

I don’t even remember the play all the way. It felt like he hit a bunch of big shots and bunch of tough shots. He played a really spectacular game. You have to give him a lot of credit. He’s a really tough guy to cover, he’s so shifty and quick and he was really attacking us and we were trying not to foul. He did a really good job and had some really good shots at the end.
Al Horford

RE: Reacting as a leader to the Thomas-Schroder scuffle:

I honestly didn’t see. I just heard. Someone just told me what went on. But you always try to... especially a younger guy, you want to make sure you mentor them and you feel good. They haven’t been in these situations before, these types of games. It’s important that we all stay together and keep our focus.

RE: If the earlier scuffle impacted his interaction with Jonas Jerebko:

No no. I just think he was just trying to play hard. I thought it was unnecessary. I let him know. We moved on.

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