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Practice Report: Lots of positives for Suns to build on from Thursday’s effort

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Suns learned a lot about the impact of effort, and have more lessons to learn about closing out games.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

What positives can come out of an overtime loss after having a 15-point advantage at the start of the fourth quarter?

Well, plenty. The Suns came out with a ton of effort in the first half against the Celtics and they looked like the energized team we saw beat Memphis just a few days prior.

Don’t let off the gas

“You could tell how we came out we played hard and we played together as a team,” Mikal Bridges said. “There were a lot of signs that came out, good signs for us and how we played and we got to do it for four quarters.”

No lead is too big of a lead for a team like the Celtics to come back from and Bridges knows that all too well. He used to be on a team just like that.

“They just have that, even though they didn’t win yet, that’s that championship pedigree they have,” Bridges said. “That’s why they’re one of the best teams. They don’t stop.”

Bridges knows what it’s like to have that championship pedigree, coming from Villanova, a team that won two national titles while he was there. He compared the Celtics to those Villanova teams and was able to spot the similarities.

“We know how it is when we’re down and we’re one of the best teams in the country,” Bridges said. “We know that we’re not going to stop and we’re going to fight until the end so seeing that out there just made me realize how it was in college. I was in that same position and I know how they’re thinking out there.”

He knows that in order to implement some of the things he learned at Villanova, the Suns need to hustle for all 48 minutes.

“Just got to stick with it,” Bridges said. “Don’t get comfortable. Don’t relax. When you’re up 20 get it to 30. When you’re up 30 get it to 40. Just have that mindset every game.”

That last possession in regulation

Everyone wants to know what happened on the last possession before the game went to overtime. Coach Igor Kokoskov clarified that his guys were supposed to switch and foul but the Celtics ran a play that would counter that and executed a quick pass to an open Marcus Morris for three.

“You have to be careful if you foul right away,” Kokoskov said. “A lot of times a lot the coaches, they know you’re fouling.”

If Booker, who’d switched onto Morris as the play started, had attacked Morris on the catch for a foul, the play could have resulted in two free throws for the Celtics with just over five seconds left.

Or, Marcus could have felt the tight defense and turned himself into a shooting motion early enough to draw free throws.

Fatigue also set in and had coach reflecting on if he should’ve taken the guys out who had been in and gave the Suns that lead or leave them in to close out the game.

“We had a unit and I stuck with the same group for a long period of time in the fourth quarter and stuck with the same group in overtime,” Kokoskov said. “So maybe they’re fatigued, they’re tired, they’re not sure and indecisive and that comes with experience and being better conditioned, more communication.”

Coach spent a lot of time thinking what he could do differently and said that he wouldn’t have changed rolling with the guys who got them to that 22-point lead to begin with.

Learning process continues for Deandre

Deandre Ayton didn’t have much to stay about last night’s game. He already forgot about it.

“What did I learn from last night? I forgot about last night,” he said.

He said their film session the next morning was positive but also rough. They saw how and why they lost the game.

“We just got to be dialed in and more engaged,” Ayton said. “Just keep competing from the jump and until the end of regulation is over.”

All of this is still new to Ayton. He’s still getting used to playing against guys he watched and idolized growing up so he has a different perspective on winning and losing.

“I’m still excited for every game,” Ayton said. “Seeing all these superstars like Kyrie, Horford and all those dudes and seeing how they play. I’m still star struck so. I mean win or lose I’m still excited to play the next game.”

Every game Ayton is learning something new and applying it to his game.

“I learned a lot from Aldridge,” Ayton said. “They kept on emphasizing giving him the ball down low and we had to stop it. Stuff like that. Just keep pushing that button and just keep teams on their heels and stay aggressive.”

He also said he enjoys playing the Warriors because of how they move the ball and the way they talk to each other on the court.

Those are all qualities we would all like to see more of in the Phoenix Suns. A team that communicates and moves the ball the way Golden State does, is a team that has chemistry and trusts one another. We’ve seen glimpses of it at times from this Suns team but it’s something that’s going to take a while to build consistently.