It is difficult to beat a team when you allow them to shoot 77 percent in the first quarter -- especially when one of the players on the opposing team is an alien that mixes the handle of a point guard with the wingspan of a Mutombo. Some nights you have to admit that you are over-matched, and proceed to take the drubbing.
After the first quarter was over, it looked like the Suns were on their way to a thirty-point blowout. Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe couldn’t pierce the sea of arms, and the defense could not collectively keep the Bucks out of the paint. But then, something happened as the second quarter went along; Booker found his inner Splash Brother and split flames en route to 27 points during a captivating nine-minute stretch to bring the Suns within ten as the horn sounded.
The second half was mostly about Milwaukee treading water until they were able to expand on their lead in the fourth quarter. Booker predictably cooled off, the Suns got sloppy and let Giannis Antetokounmpo and friends get out in transition where they can let their long limbs flourish. Defense has been a point of emphasis for the coaching staff as of late, but that end looked like a lay up line all night.
Some assorted thoughts:
- It was mesmerizing to watch Giannis `get wherever he wanted on the court, even against the bull-like tactics of P.J. Tucker. You can do everything right against Giannis as a defender, but more times than not, it will not matter. What a player.
- For much of the first half, Milwaukee curiously left the corners open for the Suns to attack. Teams tend to guard the corners with vengeance, so I wonder what thought process Jason Kidd and his staff had to employ that strategy. It’s one thing to let T.J. Warren and Marquese Chriss let em fly from that mark, but Tucker had his fair share as well.
- Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon picked up Bledsoe full court for most of the night, leading to some uncomfortable dribbles and even a turnover. This seemingly small detail can have gigantic returns over the course of the game — you could tell Bledsoe had a hard time getting into a rhythm initially and was set to square up after a few possessions.
- For the first time (at least the times that I have watched him) Booker had a James Harden feel to his game during his hot streak at the end of the first half. He was able to snake by Tony Snell (no slouch) at will off the dribble and get to the hole on command. Booker’s shooting prowess has never been questioned, but the development of a relentless driving attack will be what takes his game to the next level.
Devin Booker has extended his streak scoring 20+ points to 16 consecutive games, the youngest player in NBA history to do so in 16 straight— Phoenix Suns Stats (@SunsBballComm) February 5, 2017
- Jabari Parker is one of the league’s most underappreciated dunkers:
- Want to guess the average amount of free throw attempts per Suns game? If you guessed 54.2 (26 by the Suns and 28.2 by opponents), you are correct, and I am one hundred percent certain that you cheated. To no surprise, that figure is the most in the league, and the most by a team since the 2010-11 Oklahoma City Thunder. Yikes.
- Chriss was given the opportunity to play at the five for an extensive period in the second and did some stuff well on the offensive end. I am going to take a guess that coach Earl Watson wanted to see how Chriss would match up against post stalwart Greg Monroe (that didn’t go as well), but it was fun to watch the rookie roam the court free of Tyson Chandler.
- Brogdon is REALLY good, and a perfect fit for what the Bucks want to do. Still don’t quite understand how the rest of the league let him fall so far in the draft.
Tough one tonight. Here is a box score for those interested.