Thad Young on going toe-to-toe with Joel Embiid: ‘You seen two bears fight before?’

Following Toronto’s big Game 4 win, Raptors forward Thaddeus Young discussed defending Embiid, the Raptors’ defensive strategy, busting out the crossover, Pascal Siakam’s bounce-back, and, of course, a whole lot of Scottie Barnes. Follow our Raptors coverage all season long on Yahoo Sports Canada.

Video Transcript


- What's the feeling of satisfaction to have such a huge contribution to a big win that keeps the season going?

THAD YOUNG: I mean, it's not just me. It's the whole team. We all came together, and we knew that this was, win or go home. So we all put our minds into it. We all put our all into it. And we all came out and did the job that we needed to do.

For me, it's just about going out there and just executing, making sure that I'm always there for my teammates, making sure that I'm always putting out that 100% effort. No matter what day it is, every single day, that's the plan. And we stuck to it tonight, and we got a win tonight.

- What's it like wrestling Embiid?


You seen two bears fight before?


THAD YOUNG: No, it's tough. He's a big body, big, strong guy.

This is not my first time. It's not my first rodeo playing against him. So just understanding that, when he's coming down the court, you do your work early. Guy who play in this league a long time ago, Aaron McKie always would tell me do your work early. Just do your work early and, you know, it's going to work out for you.

So I just try to continue to do my work early, just make them see different looks on defense, like front and 3/4 and playing behind and trying to push them up off the block and making sure that I got them as far away from the basket as possible so when he did drive the basketball, he would have to beat me off the dribble as opposed to just backing me down.

- It seems, since you hurt the thumb, it's been trying to convince Nick to get you back in there for a few more minutes. Tonight at half, what was the difference? How did you convince him?

THAD YOUNG: I mean, I don't think it was any convincing, you know? I don't control minutes. I don't control coaching or anything like that. The only thing I can control is when I'm touching the court. And when I touch the court, it's about just going out there and just proving your worth and proving who you are and what you brought to this game for the time period that you have played in this league.

- Before and after your arrival, this team has seen-- guys have so much from opponents. I don't know if pride is the right word for it. How much pressure do you put on yourself to be one of the guys that's diagnosing that, that makes the right play?

THAD YOUNG: I mean, I wouldn't say pressure, you know? I'm just doing what I've done my whole career, just going out there and playing basketball. We're playing a child's game and making money, and I'm having fun doing it.

So just continuing to just go play. Not have or feel any pressure. Just playing basketball. Just playing free. Just making sure that I'm taking care of business and making sure that I'm putting myself in positions to where I can be successful for the team and putting my guys in successful positions.

- I guess what I'm asking is, you're one of the-- you've seen a lot, and you're often the guy going to the middle with that. [INAUDIBLE] So do you feel a responsibility to be the guy to help to act as a [INAUDIBLE] or facilitator?

THAD YOUNG: Yeah, I mean, you know, that's what I've kind of done, especially, like the last four or five years, just kind of been out there as a guy that can kind of, like, try to calm everything down, when they do run zone and stuff like that, flash in the middle and stay poised, make the right plays. If there's nothing there, you can always throw the ball back out and start over again.

So just understanding to have patience. And I think that's what gets us over the hump, just having that patience and having that poise throughout the course of a basketball game.

- You've been around for some years now. Help us contextualize how special Scottie is.

THAD YOUNG: Oh, man, he's a huge, integral part of this team. I mean, even him coming back, you know? Obviously, he didn't do a whole bunch. But him coming back and just bringing his energy, picking up on the basketball, getting rebounds defensively-- he's a solid basketball player. He understands the game. And he's a special basketball player.

Some of the things that he's able to do at his size and with his ability is going to keep him in this league for a long, long time. And I'm happy to see him win Rookie of the Year. I'm proud of him, even though it's been a short period of time, of me kind of just getting with him And talking to him and stuff like that.

But I remember, like, probably, like, two or three weeks ago, the first thing I said was-- when they started talking rookies, I said, they ain't gave it to you yet?


Because I-- like, in my mind, I feel he was the Rookie of the Year. I feel the stuff that he brings to the game, the intangibles that he has, and the ability that he has-- he's a very special player and that he definitely is well deserving of that trophy.


A really solid basketball player but also a special. Player. Those two things don't always come together in the same person. What does it mean when [INAUDIBLE] the passion, the physical ability?

THAD YOUNG: You get a superstar type player. You know, obviously, like, he's in his first year, but you get continuous growth. You get different things that you're not used to seeing from individuals that play this game.

And he's-- like I said, he's just a special player. He has a unique mindset. He has a unique thing about him that he brings to the game each and every day.

And the biggest thing? We can say he's unique. We can say he's special. But his work ethic. He comes in. He works every single day. And he puts in the time to get better. And he wants to get better. And he's always on himself, just like his teammates are on him.

So those are the things that really stand out about him-- his work ethic. And you don't see most guys to have a lot of work ethic sometimes.

- You guys count out, as a team, in practice yesterday-- you haven't had, as a team, a whole lot of good news over the last week. A moment like and obviously getting Scottie back on the court today-- are those are the kind of things that can give you guys a boost?

THAD YOUNG: Yeah, for sure. Anytime something, like, special happens or something good happens, you know, it always gives you a boost, you know?

Like I said, I'm very happy and proud of Scottie. And this was a good win for us. But the series is not over. And we have to go to Philly and make sure that we take care of business there and just continue to try to win games.

- Thad, you've been around a lot of great players. For Pascal to have the kind of disappointing finish of game 3, and come back, play this well-- not only play as well but get to the line 15 times and be super aggressive. What does that say about him and his character?

THAD YOUNG: Resilience. He's always been a resilient player, always going to fight through adversity.

He knows his game. He knows who he is as a player. And he knows how to come back and bounce back from having not so good games, and it's exactly what he did. He just came out, and he did what Pascal does, play basketball and not care about what people are saying or the last game, you know? It's about this game. It's about moving forward. And that's what he did.

- Scottie described you guys as a family, an incredible family. Honestly, we normally don't have family members here that often. What is it like for you to have your kids here, and especially the crowd going so nuts for some of plays you had today?

THAD YOUNG: I'm just giving them the things that-- the things and tools that they need. It's always special to have them around because they get to see stuff that other kids don't see. They get to travel the world and come watch their dad play basketball.

But that time is going to come. And, you know, I'm putting a lot of time into both of these little guys, sitting in this crowd right here, and just making sure that I'm going out there and doing my best as a player and doing my best as a dad as well, and as a husband and just making sure that they see these things that I'm doing and it's instilled in them.

- Thad, do you remember the last time you caught someone up like that?

THAD YOUNG: [LAUGHS] This knucklehead, no.


No. I definitely don't. But, you know, it happened. I'm sure everybody was going crazy.

But, you know, I'm more excited about the win. I'm happy we got that.

- As experienced as you are, how tough is it to be constantly mindful of how crafty Embiid and Harden can be?

THAD YOUNG: Man, I mean, some of the stuff that they're doing is just crazy. But you definitely have to be mindful of it because they-- they've been doing this stuff a year so they know how to get to the free throw line. They know how to get themselves going with a few layups.

Sometimes they do a little grabbing and stuff that the refs don't see. Sometimes they're pushing you in, and you got to put you-- when you push back, the refs see that.

So it's a lot of different stuff that goes on. But you definitely have to be mindful because they are some of the best at doing these things, you know? That's how they get to the free throw line. That's how they get themselves going. That's how they became superstars. And that's how they're the top tier guys in this league, you know?

And they're great basketball players. And all great basketball players-- they have things that they do to they get themselves going. And you definitely have to be mindful of it and you have to be conscious of everything where the refs don't see certain things. And you have to show your hands and make sure that you're not bodying them too much and stuff like that.

But just staying in front and just making sure that you make every shot tough. I think that's the biggest thing, just making it all tough.

- Thank you.


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