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How the Phoenix Suns became an absolute power

the6man Jun 20

For many years, the Phoenix Suns has been a miserable team, full of dysfunctions, and supervised by one of the most famous owners. Fill his general manager’s office with farm animals And exist “It’s too tight, you will squeak when you walk”.

Now, since Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire split it up in 2010, the Suns have become the topic of entering the Western Conference Finals for the first time in team history.

So how did the Suns, who won only 19 of 82 games two seasons ago, become so good? Well, there are several factors at play.

Elite defense

Although the offensive art of Chris Paul and Devin Booker sold tickets, so did the winning. The biggest reason the Suns won this season was not their strong offense, but their tenacious commitment to defense.

From the first day of training camp, Phoenix consciously decided to tighten the screw of D, ending the regular season with a defensive efficiency of 110.4, ranking sixth in the league.

Then when the playoffs came, they turned the Heat up, from good to good on the other side of the ball. The Suns currently have the second-best defense in the playoffs, second only to the Milwaukee Bucks, who played multiple rock-and-roll games with the Brooklyn Nets in the second round.

Phoenix has the lowest field goal percentage and three-pointer percentage in these playoffs. Their starting lineup is even better, with a defensive efficiency of 101.6, which is a shocking number considering the crazy pace of modern games and uninterrupted scoring.

Of course, a large part of the Suns’ defensive success can be attributed to DeAndre Ayton. In three seasons, Ayton went from looking completely lost in the most important game of his life to holding Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic to 88 shots and 35. Medium (39.8%).

The other members of the team have also been doing their part. The Phoenix guards performed well in the pick and roll, and everyone showed a firm determination to execute the double-team perfectly, while also scrambling to recover and close the shooter.

As Devin Booker said after Phoenix’s sweep of Denver, the main goal of the team is to “cut off the snakehead” by actively doubling the opponent’s best player. This is a simple strategy, but easier said than done, especially in terms of recovering the shooter after the event, but the Suns have been very successful in this regard.

In the 10 playoff games so far, the Suns have controlled their opponent’s field goal percentage below 42% in 5 games, and controlled their opponent’s field goal percentage below 45% in 8 games. Leaving aside the relatively bloated score in the fourth game, this is the final score of Phoenix opponents since the start of the winning streak: 92, 85, 100, 105, 98, 102.

This means that the average score per game is 97 points. For context, the Cleveland Cavaliers averaged the lowest points per game in the regular season, even if they were close to 104 points per night.

Of course, the sample size of the Suns is much smaller, and the opposing team will always strengthen their defense in the playoffs, but everything Phoenix has achieved on the offensive end is impressive.

Point god

Chris Paul’s season seems destined to be forgotten many times throughout the year. The first is his lack of chemistry with Devin Booker. The two players naturally tend to hold the ball in their hands and operate in similar parts of the field.

Then there was Paul’s shoulder injury. Initially his right arm was useless in the sprain. Unfortunately, only Phoenix had to face the defending champion Lakers in the first round.

But the thing about the team led by CP3 is that they can always find a way. With the help of head coach Monty Williams, Paul and Booker did not hinder each other throughout the season. Instead, they crafted a deadly pick-and-roll offense, which maximized the advantages of both players and also hit the Suns. All the role players of the team have their sweet spot.

Even if Paul was dragged to the position of backup point guard Cameron Payne due to shoulder discomfort, he successfully pleaded with the coach to let him return to the game, then gritted his teeth and continued to cheer for his teammates, even if he could barely Shoot or rebound.

In the late playoffs, his shoulder no longer showed signs of injury. Paul shined in the second round against the Denver Nuggets, scoring 25.5 points and 10.3 times on a 63% shooting rate throughout the series. Assists and 5 rebounds topped the list. It ended with an obscene assist-to-turnover ratio of 8:1.

Paul is particularly powerful in a critical moment. Look at his data in the fourth quarter of the second round:

  • 43 points
  • 10 assists​​
  • 13-16 games (84%)
  • 4-4 3PT (100%)
  • 0 turnovers

Imagine barely missing a shot in the fourth quarter and not committing a mistake in the fourth quarter. Whole seriesIt is often felt that every fourth quarter the Suns’ possession of the ball ends up with one of Paul’s patented mid-range shots or perfect assists, just like when he peaked in New Orleans circa 2008. .

Paul often keeps his best form in the fourth quarter, choosing to let his teammates start early in the game, then eventually shift gears and take over in the last quarter. This is nothing new. But what we have witnessed in the last few days is the kind of late magic reserved for the great men of history.

Of course, when it comes to Paul’s constant quest to reach the Finals, things have never been an easy task, and his recent obstacles were excluded due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Let us hope that he can adapt as soon as possible, because it is difficult to think of a person who is more worthy of competing for this year’s championship.

Devin Booker reaches new heights

Devin Booker was slightly overshadowed by Chris Paul’s outstanding performance when the Suns ended the Nuggets, but the person they called Booker had an incredible self. In a hot playoff game, he averaged 27.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He ended his cold-blooded 47-point night against the Lakers before the start of the 6th game and highlighted his which performed.

Although Booker will cut the team’s throat without hesitation when he feels a weakness, he is happy to help when needed, just like he did in the first game against Denver, he was at 8- He scored 8 assists on 12 field goals, and he scored 21 points in a gentle but efficient manner.

Booker’s tendency to score from the audience and insist on his dominance has changed the rules of the game. Not only can he coexist with Paul’s other point guard, but he can also thrive with him.

We’ve seen Devin Booker spend an important night before, but we’ve never seen it This Devin Booker is working day and night, day and night, which is a nightmare fuel for other teams in the league.

DEANDRE AYTON perfectly performs his role

When DeAndre Ayton played a near-perfect game in the first game against the Lakers in the first round, there may be only those who truly believe that the young center will continue to play. That The level each night is the immediate family of the Phoenix Suns or Ayton.

Expecting Ayton to have at least some degree of inconsistency has no effect on the budding young center. For a 22-year-old big man to participate in the playoffs for the first time in his history, anyone will naturally look forward to it. However, Ayton has let all expectations come to nothing.

In addition to excellent defense, his offensive efficiency is also very high. Take a look at this list of the top 10 shooters within five feet of the basket in the playoffs:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo: 91-124 (73.4%)
  • DeAndre Ayton: 59-74 (79.7)
  • Rudy Gobert: 59-77 (76.6%)
  • Nikola Jokic 58-80 (72.5%)
  • Ben Simmons 53-80 (66.3%)
  • Kawhi Leonard 50-69 (72.5)
  • Clint Capela: 48-79 (60.8%)
  • Paul George: 42-68 (61.8%)
  • Tobias Harris: 40-59 (67.8%)
  • Joel Embiid: 34-45 (75.6%)

Ayton’s shooting percentage at the basket is higher than everyone on the list, including this season’s MVP and two previous MVP award winners. Although Giannis certainly took more shots than Ayton due to playing more games, Ayton’s shooting percentage was still higher when their number of shots was the same. With the exception of Giannis and Rudy Gobert, Ayton also shot more shots in this five-foot range than anyone on the list, and he found himself tied with the latter.

This success stems from the fact that the big man has played the role of the big man running under the basket to the extreme, and the Suns offense, especially Chris Paul, put him in all the right positions and become the best self.

What’s next?

It’s undeniable that the Suns’ performance was impressive, but they did defeat an exhausted Lakers team at the beginning of the playoffs. They ended the game in just 71 days of offseason, with Anthony Davis in the series. After the middle paragraph, LeBron James doesn’t look like himself.

The Suns’ next opponent, the Nuggets, has no Jamal Murray, no severely hindered Michael Porter, and no underperforming Aaron Gordon. Nikola Jokic was actually forced to fight without his three best teammates.

This raises the question: should we put the lid on — Or skylight – About the excitement built around this team until they prove themselves against a healthy playoff team?

Maybe. But then again, when Chris Paul’s shoulder refused to cooperate with the rest of his body, Phoenix had to fight his own serious injury.

In addition, if the Suns are simply passing by the injured enemy, any concerns about the legitimacy of the Suns’ success in the playoffs so far will become even more important. Instead, they have been beating them into a fine slurry.

Whether you are based on numbers or eye tests, there are good reasons to believe that this team will cause serious headaches to anyone they face in the conference finals and beyond.

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This post is written by Nick Jungfer


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