Even though the Milwaukee Bucks were missing leading MVP candidate Giannis Antetokoumpo, the engine to their success, who would’ve expected the Suns to throttle an NBA Finals favorite? That’s exactly what happened on Sunday afternoon at Talking Stick Resort Arena as Phoenix put together arguably their best outing of the 2019-20 season.
This is rare occasion on game recaps, because winning a game in this manner doesn’t really deserve any negatives. This was a thorough beatdown by the Suns, even though they are missing Deandre Ayton and Kelly Oubre Jr. due to injury.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the biggest takeaways from the Suns’ 140-131 win below.
Thumbs Up: Devin Booker
This was the best we’ve seen the Suns’ superstar look since January where he averaged 30 points throughout the month. At halftime alone, Booker was up to 28 points and 5 assists on 10-of-12 shooting. Whatever the Bucks threw at Booker, he was easily able to do whatever he wanted scoring the basketball.
Booker finished the game with 36 points and 8 assists on an incredible 13-of-17 shooting. If Booker is able to keep this up over the final stretch of the season, Phoenix should be competitive almost every night even if they’re shorthanded.
Where does this Booker performance rank this year? The New Orleans and Memphis 40-plus point outings stand out to me, but the 23-year-old shooting guard was flat out dominant on Sunday afternoon.
Thumbs Up: Ricky Rubio
Rubio’s rejuvenation post-All-Star break has been a huge development for this Suns squad. Not only that, but Booker and Rubio are clicking on all cylinders sharing the playmaking duties while doing so at a super high level.
Phoenix’s big free agent signing was scorching hot out of the gate with nine points in the first five minutes, but the all-around game obviously shined through as well. Flirting with a triple-double at halftime and eventually accomplishing it through three quarters, Rubio finished with one his best games over the last few months: 25 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists, and 3 steals on 8-of-15 shooting.
Without Oubre likely for the rest of the season, plus Ayton’s ankle injury woes, a lot more will be put on Rubio’s plate to fill a void. On Sunday, Rubio did exactly that showing off some point guard wizardry.
Thumbs Up: Aron Baynes
Baynes followed up his jaw-dropping 37-point performance on Friday against Portland with emphasis. Even though it wasn’t a high-point scoring binge, Baynes’ defensive impact along with his high-IQ play continues to be an underrated aspect in his game.
After hitting two three-pointers in the first few minutes, Baynes settled in as Booker’s scoring momentum took off. The bruising big man added 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 33 minutes.
I’ll continue to pound the table for Phoenix to re-sign Baynes this offseason. He’s too vital of a bench piece to let walk onto the open market. With enough flexibility to keep Baynes around for 1-2 more years to help on and off the court, it’s a no-brainer to me.
Thumbs Up: Three-Point Shooting
When the Suns are hitting threes at a high rate, they are very hard to stop. It’s evidence by how they’ve put together these impressive stretches of play against elite competition. That was no different against the juggernaut Bucks, sans Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Phoenix was daring threes at such a high rate, Al McCoy probably was running out of breath saying “Shazam!” by the end of regulation.
The Suns successfully hit 19 shots from downtown, which helped ignite the consistent double-digit lead throughout.
It’s a make or miss league, and Phoenix showed they can beat anyone when those perimeter shots keep connecting.