Interview: Blazers coach McMillan — 'We're not going to quit'
McMillan on his injury and where the team is at:
It’s another challenge for us. It’s a challenge for me. I’ve never been in a situation like this, where I’ve been off my leg on crutches during the season, as a player or a coach. So, it’s a different challenge for us, and we just have to overcome it. We’ve had a lot of bad breaks here early this season. And we just have to keep working and keep fighting and overcome this. I think things will turn around eventually. We can’t give in to what has been going on, or what is happening to us right now. We need stick together and continue to work to turn this thing around.
On what has caused the team’s recent struggles:
I think it’s slippage. We’ve had to make some adjustments because of players being out and myself being out. And looking at us on television, just slippage in what we’re doing. We’ve got to go harder. We’ve got to execute offensively, as well as defensively. And I see us starting to individually do our own thing. And collectively, we’re making some mistakes. And they were timely in a few of those games. But I thought the team did a good job of giving themselves a chance to win. And as far as breaks, I think you make breaks. You have to make them. What I mean by that: You have to work, and things will happen for you. You can’t just sit back and hope. There were some times we had some loose balls and rebounds, and you can’t hope to get them; you’ve got to go and get them. And, offensively, understanding time/score situation. So, the things we’ve been talking about here: Being calm, being clear, being consistent. I didn’t think we were calm at times. I didn’t think that we were clear about what we wanted to. And we’re not consistent with what we condition ourselves to do.
On lineup changes:
I’ve got to look at everything. And, certainly, we’re looking at that. I want to talk to the coaches about it. But we’re a different team now. We were a different team without the two guys early, Travis (Outlaw) and Nicolas (Batum). And we’re certainly a different group without big Greg (Oden). And now without Rudy (Fernandez). And what we’ve got to do is find a way to get a group out there, maintain and win games, and try and stay in this thing until we can get some guys healthy. So, yes, I’m looking at it.
On whether he thinks the team is still unified:
What I said was slippage. And what I mean by slippage is execution. Ball movement. Setting screens. Using screens. I think we’re holding onto the ball too much. We’re playing late into the shot clock. We’re not getting up enough attempts. And when you’re not setting screens or using screens or pushing the ball or working to execute and being consistent with it, you’re going to be playing late in the shot clock, and you’re going to be playing against a defense that’s set. So what’s going to end up happening, you’re going to have a lot of breakdowns and (isolations), where it’s a lot of one-on-ones, and even your best players, such as a Brandon Roy, is not going to be hot every night to score like that. So, we’ve got to get back to setting screens and using screens and getting our spacing and movement. And it starts with us pushing that ball and looking to attack.
On becoming more up tempo:
Well, just look to attack. Yeah, attack the basket. We’re not attacking the basket. We’re doing that; we’re doing that late. We should be looking to do that in every cut that we make.
On whether the offense looks out of synch:
We’re not creating a lot of shots for us. And, again, that goes back to slippage. And that happens with a team. You set screens and you use screens. If we’re running a post-up play for LaMarcus (Aldridge), there are about three or four options before we even get the ball to his side. Execute every option to score. I think what we’re doing, we’re running the play to get the ball to LaMarcus or Brandon or Andre Miller, but we’re not executing all of our options to score or take advantage of that defense; every cut, every screen that we set and make. And that puts a lot of pressure on your offense, so you end up playing late in the shot clock, one-on-one.
On how slippage occurs:
My leg is in this cast because of slippage. No, seriously. It was slippage then. And that was part of what we wanted to try and show them. And communicating on defense and setting screens and sprinting out and talking, and all those things we’re talking about now, we’ve got to do. So, that happens, where you get away from what the basics. And sometimes you hear me, and I guess you hear other coaches — but we’ve got to get back to the basics. Well, that’s slippage.
On how he views where the team is at:
Well, we talked about where we are. And, basically, for us, with so many changes and so many guys out, our focus is we’re not going to quit. We’re not going to give in to all this that has happened. Our focus is — we talked about trying to win the division — our focus is to try to get to the playoffs. And take it one game at a time, and see if we can win games here until we can start to get some guys back. But we’re not giving up on this season and quitting on this season. We do have nine guys. Let’s give it what we got. And try to get to the playoffs, and we get there and see what happens after that.
On watching the team adapt to injuries and changes:
Sitting at home, their mindset was different. And now, even mine. I had to make that adjustment during the game, to play without Greg. But now, he’s not out there. And we know that. And it’s a different team. And, once again, we’ve got to make adjustments. But that’s what you have to do.
On making a move:
You know, (Blazers general manager) Kevin (Pritchard) is looking at all scenarios. Where, can we bring in another body? Can we bring in another player? And, that’s what he does. My focus is on the team and the guys we have healthy and getting them ready for the game.