That's What He Said

That's What He Said - Cavaliers at Celtics (Game 7)

Read what the players and coaches had to say following Boston's 87-79 defeat to Cleveland.

Click on a player to reveal quotes from their postgame press conference.


RE: I know from Game 1 of the season, it's been quite a ride. Sort of ends abruptly. How does it hit you?

Every ending is tough. I guess that's for all 29 teams that don't win it. No matter how good of a season you've had, the ones that don't end when you win a championship, it's going to be a disappointing ending. But it was pretty incredible run by an incredible group of guys, and an absolute pleasure and privilege to be around them every day. You know -- yeah.

RE: I know it's a tough pill to swallow, but what exactly did you say to the guys in the locker room and just the fight that they showed all season long?

First of all, I think we all talked about being very appreciative for getting a chance to be around each other all year. It was a tremendous group from the standpoint of pulling together. It was just a great locker room, great support of one another. Then I talked about how the pain is part of the path. We've been really fortunate to continuously get better the last couple of years and put ourselves in better positions. But when it ends it's painful, and that is part of the path. And so we have to let it motivate us.

RE: Just curious how proud are you of this team to be resilient, to push the Cavaliers to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals and just through all the injuries, through all the naysayers, just to prove everybody wrong to make it to this point?

I feel just privileged to be a part of it. Just to be around these guys every day. I have a small role to play. Everybody that has a role in our organization plays it really well. It's a lot of fun to go to work every day. I'm totally appreciative of the players. They've been incredible all throughout our time here. I think at the end of the day, again, this team was the only team that I've been around at this level that I thought we might shoot 36 percent and win the game. But we just had one of those nights. I thought the biggest moment of the game was when we couldn't extend the lead in the second quarter. We were in really good shape, really good shape -- and then we just couldn't quite extend the lead. I thought that added to probably the shooting the rest of the game. But this group was resilient and tough enough to do it anyway. That's what I loved about being around them every day. Sorry, I'm on a tangent, but a couple years ago when we were talking about -- Danny [Ainge] puts this whole kind of plan together. We want to be as good and give ourselves as many chances as possible, and when things that are tough happen, we don't want to take big dips. We still want to be incredibly competitive. This group, we had two really tough injuries -- three really tough injuries with [Daniel] Theis. There's no dip. They just battled. They were special.

RE: You said the pain was part of the path. What lessons do they need to take from a game like this if they're in a game like this again?

I think that we'll go back and watch it, as painful as that will be. But I think ultimately it's not just one game in a seven-game series. It's not just one possession in a seven-game series. You go back and look at the whole thing -- what you could have done better, what you could have done differently. But that's part of it. You go back and you analyze it, move on.

RE: Jayson Tatum, pretty unbelievable season for what was a 19-year-old rookie, finishes at 20. The world got to see him during this series but you got to see him all season long. What is the top note that you take away from seeing him day-to-day, like you said, since September 25th?

He can get a lot better. That's the fun part. I think there are so many little things that he'll continue to improve upon, but he's not afraid. He's tough minded, and obviously has a special talent for putting the ball in the basket.

RE: What did Jayson accomplish this season as a once 19-year-old rookie?

Unbelievable. Just the way that he took the season in stride and just kept pushing. For somebody to go through this their first time and go through a full NBA season -- he played, I think, pretty much every game -- and to be in these pressure situations in the playoffs, his composure, making play after play and really just poised and ready for moments all year. I couldn't ever imagine him playing at this level and in this magnitude. As a group, we have nothing to hang our heads about.

RE: You came out in the first part of the game, just an amazing effort. How hard is this for you? You were at the edge of reaching your first Finals?

I think the effort was great. Obviously, I'm disappointed that we couldn't reach that next level. I just think that for our group, for myself, we all need to look at the work that we did this season and understand that there's a lot more work to do in order to reach that next level. So individually this summer, it's something that I will work even harder on my body, on the court, taking care of myself to help our team be in these type of positions again. It's definitely tough, but we have nothing to hang our heads about.

RE: Al, after the game, there was a long embrace between you and LeBron. It's obvious he has a ton of respect for you. I know you've run up against him a couple times here in the playoffs. How do you look at it? Is losing to LeBron in a playoff series any different than losing to any team that doesn't have LeBron, just given his stature and the history of the game?

It's difficult. I think that we always try to compare him to other players of all time and criticize that -- people have to understand that he is playing at a different level. Just his ability, his stamina, just his feel of the game. There's just a lot of positive things about him and how he's able to have those repeated efforts time and time again. It's one of those things that I've got to tip my hat to him. As a group, we really fought hard. We did everything we could. We put ourselves in position. We were one or two shots away from being there, and it just wasn't enough for our group. Credit to him and their team.

RE: The second quarter, you were up 12 and they cut the lead and you guys were, I think, one field goal in six minutes. Is that kind of the point where the game changed, and did you guys rely maybe a little too much on the three in the second half to try to come back?

Yeah. It's one of those things that we felt like we had some good momentum going there, and then we had some great looks that just literally went in and out and that we missed. I think they gained some momentum; they made some plays. Earlier in the series at home, we would hit them like that. It seemed like they were able to put them down, and they just found their way back into it. But yeah, I think that was definitely a turning point.

RE: Jayson, coming in, a lot of responsibility was placed on you for just being a rookie, and you always seemed to handle it with such poise. Reflecting back, what would you say was the biggest area of growth for you this season?

Just learning everything that I didn't know from the first game until today. It was such an adjustment the first year in the league -- new teammates, new system, living on your own, traveling, playing so many games. I think the biggest thing was just getting used to it and comfortable. There were ups and downs throughout the season, but I had great teammates. When times were tough, they always told me just to keep working and sticking with it. Watching them just work by example, I was able to just get more comfortable and have more confidence in myself throughout the season that I didn't have early on.

RE: Jayson, Ty Lue was just in here and talking about their game plan coming into the series against you, and it was to be physical. He talked about holding you away from the ball. When you leave this series, what is the biggest lesson that you take away from playing in the Conference Finals and seeing what this type of basketball is all about?

Just an amazing ride that we had and how much fun it was playing with these group of guys night in and night out, playing for our coaching staff. Just how I would have went to war with any of those guys on our team any day. I knew that we were going to give it our all every single night, no matter what the circumstance was, and the entire season we showed that. Like Al said, we have nothing to hang our head about. We left it all on the floor, and it was a lot of fun.

RE: Jayson, just curious what this entire postseason has been like for you. They just said you had the most 20-point games by a rookie since Kareem back in 1970. Curious what this entire ride has been like for you?

The postseason has been a lot of fun, from the first game to today. I've learned so much. I've just enjoyed everything that we've accomplished, everything we went through. I just had so much fun out there each and every night, no matter if we won or lost, just how we competed and always gave it our all. It was my first year, so I was just out there having fun.

RE: Jayson, same question about your moment with LeBron after the game was over. What was your moment like? Were any words exchanged?

Yeah. That was a special moment for me, because it's different. It's my first year in the league. I grew up watching LeBron and asking him to follow me back on Twitter, going to his camps. So just to my first year, to be able to compete against a player like him and be a few shots away from beating him and his team to go to the championship is something I will always remember.

RE: Jayson, coming in, a lot of responsibility was placed on you for just being a rookie, and you always seemed to handle it with such poise. Reflecting back, what would you say was the biggest area of growth for you this season?

Just learning everything that I didn't know from the first game until today. It was such an adjustment the first year in the league -- new teammates, new system, living on your own, traveling, playing so many games. I think the biggest thing was just getting used to it and comfortable. There were ups and downs throughout the season, but I had great teammates. When times were tough, they always told me just to keep working and sticking with it. Watching them just work by example, I was able to just get more comfortable and have more confidence in myself throughout the season that I didn't have early on.

RE: Just one of those nights where shots weren’t falling?

Yeah, just one of those nights.

RE: How difficult in the 4th quarter shots not falling what was going through your mind?

Just got to find a way to win, that was the only thing going through our minds, just find a way to win and we came up short.

RE: At what point will you allow yourself to look back on this season?

I’ll probably assess it down the line. Right now it’s a little bit hard; still in the moment all the emotions are still there. It was a good year, it was a good season. It’s hard to believe that it’s over. I just wish I could’ve done a little more.

RE: How will this team be next year with Kyrie (Irving) and Gordon Hayward coming back?

I think we will be alright.

RE: Down 35-23, Brad [Stevens] just said when he and his team couldn't extend the lead, he thought that was a pivotal point of the game. What did you do to stay in the game at that point?

I don't remember. I really don't. I mean, I know they went up 12, we took a timeout. Just told our guys to stay the course, we were getting good shots. Our defense was pretty good, and sooner or later we were going to make, and I thought the players did a great job of adjusting. We went to our switches earlier than we wanted to and double teamed the post to try to get us activated, and I thought we brought in I think Kyle [Korver] for Tristan [Thompson] around that stretch and kind of opened the floor up a little bit and was able to get some scores and stops, and that's about all I remember.

RE: You've seen LeBron do some unbelievable things, going 48 minutes tonight, doing what he did. Where does that stack up for you?

Yeah, I think so. He's had a lot of gaudy games, but I just think Game 7, in Boston, all the circumstances that surround Boston, the history behind Boston, playing a team that's very well-coached, a good, young team that's undefeated in the Playoffs at home, and to come on the road where all the games have been lopsided, both home teams have pretty much been in great shape at home, and to come here in a hostile environment, Game 7, Eastern Conference Finals, this and Game 7 of the NBA Finals in 2016, right there.

RE: When you game-planned without Kevin Love, was this the Jeff Green you hoped you'd get?

Yes. You know, Jeff, man, I'm so happy for him. Very talented player. Very versatile. And just, you know, not really getting a great opportunity in all the places he's been, and just to see him be on this stage and starting in a Game 7, Eastern Conference Finals and playing 42 minutes, having 19 points, eight rebounds is just huge, and I'm so happy for Jeff. I had him here when I coached in Boston, and just an allaround great guy, and I'm just happy for him and happy for the performance he had tonight.

RE: Just finishing up a series against your cousin Jayson Tatum, curious on your thoughts about his performance throughout this series?

He's tough. As a little kid, you didn't see this coming, but to be a rookie and perform the way he's performed on this stage is incredible. Give all the credit to Brad Stevens for these young guys maturing right in front of him in one season and being in position to make big shots at the end of the game, take big shots, be on the floor, Eastern Conference, Game 7. To perform the way he's performed, he plays like a five, six, seven-year vet. He's always poised, always under control, never gets sped up, really no weaknesses offensively. He can post, he can take you off the dribble, run pick-and-roll, catch and shoot. He's of our best players in this league in a couple few years. I'm very happy for him.

RE: The Celtics have surprised a lot of people for most of the year. Obviously the injuries, a lot of young guys, and it sort of got -- I'm wondering, it got dangerous, more like they didn't really have two or three, it was sort of six guys, you didn't know which three were going to play. Why were they such a tough matchup and why were they still here in Game 7 of the NBA Conference Finals?

For one, they're well-coached. Brad is unbelievable. We all know that. But getting the young players to buy into his system -- but the tough part about it, outside of [Aron] Baynes who's a great offensive rebounder, bruiser, tough guy inside, but everybody they play, which we call our live, which meaning they can dribble, pass and shoot, so you have [Terry] Rozier, [Marcus] Smart, Tatum, [Jaylen] Brown, [Marcus] Morris, [Al] Horford, and they all can make plays. When you're playing a team like that, it's hard to really game plan who you want to take away because the other guy can hurt you. So that's a problem we had. But I thought our guys did a great job of adjusting in that second quarter of going to our switches, double teaming the post-ups. But when you have five guys on the floor that can dribble, pass and shoot, it's tough to defend, and that's what they have.

RE: Jeff, given where the game was, the circumstances with you starting, that this franchise drafted you No. 5 overall [in 2007], what is what you were able to accomplish tonight, what does that mean to you?

It means a lot because it helped my team get to The Finals. Coming in, I just told myself, play hard, stay in the zone, have fun with it, and enjoy the moment. Man, you work hard to get to this point. You know, it was right there for us. We stuck together. They made runs, and we stuck together and we just continued to play hard. I mean, it's hard to put into words because you always dreamed of going to The Finals, and now that dream of mine is there.

RE: But now what has the actual journey been like, given just the total craziness of the season and everything you guys have gone through?

I mean, it's -- I can only speak for myself. Everybody doubted us. Everybody had their opinions on what our team was, what we would do, what we can't do, from the start. Our season was up and down. Started off the year not as good as everybody wished we would have started off. We win 13 straight, then we have another dull moment in our season, and then we had trades. I mean, we've been through multiple seasons in one. And to be at this point where we are now, going to The Finals, for me, it's a blessing. You know, it shows the hard work, the team that we have, how hard we've worked to prove everybody wrong, prove the doubters wrong. And now, I mean, we're where we want to be. We're where we set out to be and where we knew we could be at this point. We're not satisfied. We're not content with where we're at. I mean, there's two teams that's going to battle tomorrow, and one of them we are going to face and we're going to prepare and get ready for them. But to be where we're at, through all the doubters, all the hate, you name it, I think we had everything thrown in our direction. But we have one of the best players in the world, and we're going to fight to the end, and that's what we did, and that's why we're at the point that we're at now.

RE: You just touched on it about everybody doubting us and all of that. But when you hear like a point of criticism about LeBron's teammates and your being one of them, as them being sub-par, how do you personally take that?

Honestly, I ignore it, because I know what our team is capable of. Like I said, everybody is going to have their opinion of what LeBron has around him. We lose, we have a terrible team. We win, oh, we knew they could do it. You know, it's the way it is. We ignore it. We ignore it. We just go in the gym each day and we work hard and we try to get better, and that's why when the time comes, we get on the floor, we know we have all the confidence in the world in our team that we can battle with anybody. I mean, we keep all the negative energy out, and we continue to stay positive and be with one another and have each other's back.

RE: With that in mind, there are a lot of reasons to win and you talk about some of those, but is there a sense of obligation to LeBron in a sense for everything he does for that team, and how satisfying is it to come through not just for the Cavs but because he's working so hard and you can help him?

Yeah, of course. You want to be there for him. You want to be in the trenches, in the battle, helping him achieve the ultimate goal. You're right with him. For me, it's a no-brainer to go out there and give it all I have. No matter how many minutes I play, I'm going to go out there and just play hard and just be there for him, be there for all my teammates, and do whatever it takes to win games. That's what I've been doing, and I'm going to continue to do that

RE: When you had the heart problem, did you ever think about going to The Finals when you were rehabbing, and has that come to mind at all when you've played this series?

Honestly, at that point, no. I wasn't concerned with the Finals at that point. My concern was health and getting back on the floor. After I got back on the floor, of course that's the main goal is to be able to compete in The Finals and win a championship. And I'm here, and I've battled. I've worked my [butt] off each day since January 9, 2012, to get back on this court and now compete for a championship. I mean, I almost lost it all, and now to sit here in front of you guys, to talk about the NBA Finals and playing in it, I mean, I've been truly blessed to be able to step foot on this court, to play this game. Each day I give it my all, whether good or bad. I live with the results. But I am enjoying it, every single moment of this. I mean, I don't take nothing for granted. Nothing.

RE: Finals No. 9 and eight in a row, but we all know what this year has been like. So how gratifying is this to get back, just given everything that you've been through?

To be honest, I haven't even really kind of processed it. It was a great atmosphere tonight to be a part of that, be a part of another Game 7 on the road. Those are things, like I said, when you're done playing the game, you can only dream and wish that you could be a part of that once again. I haven't really processed the fact about going back to another Finals yet. I know that's where we're headed. I commend my teammates and my coaching staff and everybody that put the work in, even some of our staff that is not in the limelight, behind the scenes. This was a complete team effort.

RE: I thought the 2012 game when you scored 48 against Boston was your signature game here. Can you talk about where today fits in your competition against Boston?

I don't know. I just know it's the present, and that's what I'm all about. I'm a guy who lives in the present. For me, I just want to try to make plays tonight to help our ballclub win, to put myself in position, put my teammates in position to be successful. We were able to do that.

RE: That postgame moment you had with Al Horford, particularly Jayson Tatum, can you put that into words, and was anything said between you guys?

There was a lot said, but more importantly, it was just a mutual respect and the competition. Me and Al, we've had a lot of battles in the postseason and been on a lot of All-Star teams together. I've always had a lot of mutual respect for Al and the way he conducts himself, not only as a player but as a professional, both on and off the floor. That was the moment there. And then with Jayson, I just love everything about the kid -- the way he plays the game, his demeanor, where he comes from. I know his parents. I just know he's just built for stardom. He's built for success. And that's both on and off the floor. Two guys right there that -- Boston is very lucky to have them.

RE: I know you said you're still processing this Finals trip, but the energy needed this season to get to this point, how would you compare it to other seasons where you've gotten to this point?

It's what's been asked of me, and I have to be able to just try to figure it out. I don't know how I can compare it to other seasons because I can only think about this one in the present. It was asked of me tonight to play the whole game, and I just tried to figure out how I could get through it. Throughout timeouts, I was able to catch my breath. At halftime, I didn't come out and warm up. That was my time to recalibrate and catch my wind again. It's what's been asked of me from this ballclub. I'm the leader of this team, and I'm going to give what I've got. My teammates, they respect that.

RE: What does it say about Jeff Green, the way he rose to the occasion both in Game 6 and today?

His number was called, and he just answered the call. It's amazing. Listen, at the end of the day, what he does on the basketball floor is extra credit. This guy had open-heart surgery a few years ago. The game was basically taken away from him, and they said it's possible you'll never play the game of basketball again. The fact that he can put on a uniform every day and do the things that he does out on the floor -- I don't care if he makes a shot. To make big plays like he made tonight -- for him personally, it's the cherry on top because the game was taken away from him. So for him to be able to do what he did last game after Kev's injury and then obviously start tonight, it's big time.

RE: The run you made in the second quarter that deterred (the Celtics), what did you feel there?

We came out. It was a good score. I think we were a little sped up. Our shots weren’t great the first quarter. I think we finally started settling a little bit. I think they had a 15-point lead to go down to 4 at halftime, it was really big for us. I think that gave us a lot more confidence in the second half.

RE: After all you’ve been through, does this feel different?

This season has been something else, that it’s going to end in the finals is really amazing, it really is. All the ups and downs, and storylines, and drama and even in the playoffs. All these series to come here in the end and to know that we’re going to be playing for a championship in the end. It’s unbelievable. It speaks to a lot to a lot of people in this organization. I really can’t believe it to be honest with you.

RE: How does it feel to silence a crowd?

It’s so fun to be at home and to have the crowd behind you, but to silence a great crowd – this is a great crowd, the fans here are really amazing – to hear them quiet down, there’s nothing quite like it in the world. Sports is so special in so many ways, to take a really good crowd out of it is really fun.

RE: To get to your first NBA finals, what does that feel like?

I don’t know, it kind of brought tears to my eyes because the year I started out with never would have imagine this year would turned out the way that it turned out. We have to thank God for the opportunity, thank my teammates, but I am just living in the moment right now

RE: Just talk about the feeling of winning in Boston

It’s huge. That’s a tough team over there. They’re going to be a good team for many years. I think they have a great core, even with their main guys out. Great coaching staff. To come into the Garden, with all the history that’s here, to win on their floor Game 7, to go to a Finals, couldn’t be better. You got to tip your hat off to those guys over there. It wasn’t an easy fight.

RE: This post game you had to win two series that went to a Game 7, talk about how difficult that was

Tonight, reminded me of old school basketball where home court really mattered. Back in the day, it was hard to win on the road. Boston made it tough to come here and win. The feeling is awesome. I think the resilience this team showed down the stretch. Jeff Green had a huge night, making big shots. JR Smith making big shots. Tristan (Thompson) with extra rebounds. LeBron (James) being LeBron. I have to tip my hat off to every guy on this team for really making an imprint on this game and making it tough for Boston to get comfortable.