The Milwaukee Bucks took the stage at NBA Finals Media Day on Monday. Mike Budenholzer, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, PJ Tucker, Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton & Jeff Teague answered questions from the press.
Here are some top quotes from the 2021 East Champs media session yesterday. Full interviews can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/c/bucks/playlists under Milwaukee Bucks: Press Conferences.
Mike Budenholzer discusses preparing for the Finals: “Just dig into our routines, dig into our preparation while at the same time keeping it clean, keeping it simple and getting ready to go play a basketball game. You certainly understand that you’re one of the last two teams standing and this a special place to get to, but at the end of the day, there’s more work to be done and you just focus on that work.”
Mike Budenholzer talks adjusting if Giannis can’t play: “Just allow them to go out and play. I think the fact that we had a Game 5 and a Game 6 and understand what we need to do regardless of who we’re playing is helpful, dealing with the circumstances that we have.”
Khris Middleton on the mid-range game: “I think it’s huge. A lot of coaches and teams schemes, they want you to shoot threes and layups. That’s what a lot of teams expect you to do. But when you stop sometimes, they just don’t expect it. It gives you a clean look. So if you work on it, it almost seems like a layup or a three-point shot for myself.”
Khris Middleton breaks down Devin Booker’s offensive skills: “A guy that hits tough shots, a guy that can score from the three, the mid-range and the paint, a guy that can get to the free throw line. He’s a guy that really can score in every single way, which is tough to guard because you don’t know when he’s going to stop and shoot, when he’s going to keep going, when he’s going to look to create for others. It’s just a great balance he has.”
Jrue Holiday on former Buck & new Sun Torrey Craig: “I’m happy for Torrey. I’m excited to see him. Again, us having conversations during the year, we wanted to get to this place. And he did it, not with us, but he did it with a different team. Happy for him. He’s out there playing and fighting for the same thing we’re fighting for, but would love to beat him.”
Jrue Holiday describes the different looks Milwaukee has faced in the playoffs: “I think we have had a lot of different looks. Miami, a team that plays pretty fast and really relies on threes. They were huge in the first round. And then we had that seven-game series with Brooklyn, which was exhausting. Some of the best scorers in the league on one team and really having to test your individual defense. And then we had Atlanta, where you have one great young star and then you have guys who rebound and go to the rim, a couple other young guys who are going to be great, but really tried their best to go at us. So I think we had a lot of different looks.”
Brook Lopez on assistant coach Vin Baker’s impact: “Having Vin on the sideline and as a resource for me has just been invaluable. It’s, I mean, at first, for me, obviously, just as a basketball fan, I was like, ‘This is awesome. I got Vin Baker pretty much as my big-man coach.’ But just getting to know him and becoming great friends, you’re almost like family, and I call him my older brother. To have him on the sideline, someone who is done everything in the NBA, been through what we’re going through right now, it’s great to see, and it was actually really special. We were talking, and I said, you know, he had never been to the Finals before, so he’s living through this as we are, too. So, it’s just, it’s been a special bond that we have created. And he’s such a great basketball mind as well. Like I said, just having played on an NBA floor, he sees things sometimes the coaches miss. He knows what it’s like, and so it’s very special having him on the sideline.”
PJ Tucker shows love to Phoenix: “Phoenix is honestly everything to me. Like, I literally turned down my contract I had to go back to Russia, which was the biggest contract I was ever going to sign, and it was a really big decision for me to do that. I wasn’t happy about it at first, but my wife and agent talked me into it, and it ended up being the best decision I ever made in my life and it changed my life. So I’m super grateful and indebted to Phoenix and the staff and the people that were here, Robert Sarver, all of them.”
Bobby Portis says he’s thankful for Finals experience: “This moment is special. Growing up as a kid watching KG vs. Kobe in the Finals, LeBron all those years and things like that, so being able to be a kid from Little Rock, Arkansas, being able to represent myself, my team, this organization, my family, and my state on the biggest stage in basketball is remarkable man.”
Pat Connaughton on the team playing hard for Giannis: “The way we’ve tried to make sure we’ve put our best foot forward to have his back while he’s out is doing it together. Obviously, Khris, Jrue, Bobby, there’s been a bunch of guys that have stepped up in his absence, but it’s been a collective group effort. It’s been playing together. It’s been sharing the basketball. It’s been defending as a team and gang rebounding and doing all of the little things that it takes to win a basketball game so that we can try to put ourselves in this position to get to the Finals to give Giannis some more time to get healthy because, without him, we wouldn’t be here. The things that he does off the court, we all see what he does on the court, but the things he does off the court are, in my opinion, even more impressive.”
Jeff Teague on the opportunity to possibly win a title: “It’s just a huge opportunity. It’s a blessing to be in this situation. From the beginning of the year until now, it’s been a total 180 for me. I’m just happy to be here. The opportunity is big, and I think our group is excited, and I think it should be a really good series”