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Center of the Sun, Part 1: The Suns shined brightly at home but dimmed in Game 3 on the road

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Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

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2021 NBA Finals - Game Three Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs Milwaukee Bucks W (118-105) Game 1 Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Milwaukee Bucks W (118-108) Game 2 Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Milwaukee Bucks L (120-100) Game 3 Recap

Suns in 4 was a nice dream but it turns out to be just that... a dream. Don’t be disheartened though as the ultimate dream - an NBA Championship - is still very much alive and well! The Suns have a 2-1 series lead and home court advantage.

As much as we’d all love to see the Suns play at their very best every single night, that’s just not going to happen. Star players, like Devin Booker, are occasionally going to have off nights where they score far below their averages. Teams will get hot and then cold. Players will sometimes get into foul trouble forcing coaches into making difficult decisions. Questionable fouls sometimes get called, sometimes obvious fouls aren’t called.

When enough of these thing occur on any given night, you’re going to lose. That’s what happened to the Suns in Game 3 in Milwaukee.

None of these things are chronic though. Game 4 on Wednesday will be a new story and I expect Monty Williams will have the Suns prepared and ready to strike back. And I certainly don’t expect back to back bad games from Devin Booker.


Game Highlights

BUCKS at SUNS | FULL GAME 1 NBA FINALS HIGHLIGHTS | July 6, 2021

Chris Paul FINALS DEBUT 32 Pts 9 Ast Full Game 1 Highlights vs Bucks

Devin Booker 27 pts 6 asts 3 stls vs Bucks 2021 Finals G1

Deandre Ayton 22 pts 19 rebs vs Bucks 2021 Finals G1

BUCKS at SUNS | FULL GAME 2 NBA FINALS HIGHLIGHTS | July 8, 2021

Devin Booker GOES OFF for 31 PTS, 6 AST & 7 3PM to give Suns 2-0 lead

Mikal Bridges PIVOTAL PLAYOFF CAREER-HIGH 27 PTS in Game 2 W!

Phoenix Suns Complete 10 Passes In Less Than 24 Seconds With RIDICULOUS Ball Movement

SUNS at BUCKS | FULL GAME 3 NBA FINALS HIGHLIGHTS | July 11, 2021

Cam Johnson MONSTER JAM on PJ in Transition


Key Stats

47 (Bucks) vs 36 (Suns) Rebounds

With Deandre Ayton in foul trouble, the Bucks killed the Suns on the boards in Game 3. Offensive rebounds were also terribly lopsided with the Bucks beating the Suns 13-6. The difference in total rebounds in Game 3 (+11) for Milwaukee was more than that for the previous two games combined (+7).

20 (Bucks) vs 2 (Suns) 2nd chance points

Yes, the Suns were KILLED on 2nd chance points in Game 3. Even when the Suns got an offensive rebound, it rarely led to points in this one. If the 2nd chance points differential had been equal - or at least close - this game could have turned out differently. For the series, Milwaukee is now leading the Suns 15.3 to 9.3 in 2nd chance points.

Random stats: Cameron Johnson has the 2nd highest FG% (behind Ayton’s 69.7%) in the playoffs for the Suns at 50% and the 2nd best 3pt% (behind Saric’s 44.4%) at 43.8%. Against Milwaukee his percentages are 47.6% FG (3rd) and 38.5% 3pt (3rd). After leading the NBA in Free Throw Percentage in the regular season (93.4%), Chris Paul has made only 75.0% of his FTs against Milwaukee.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and/or Basketball-Reference.com.

Quotes of the Week

“I’ve been every type of player you can think of. I’ve been the main guy, I’ve been point guard, I’ve been in center, I played all types of positions. I’m not selfish. I don’t really care about a lot of stuff that a lot of people may care about as a basketball player. I just care about winning, because winning trumps all. That’s why you train so hard — you’re trying to win and be the best. I think that’s my motivation.” - Jae Crowder

“If teams want to try to make him (Mikal Bridges) be the one to beat them, he’ll do it.” - Devin Booker

“Our mentality is to play every game as if we’re coming off of a loss. I think that’s served us well throughout the playoffs.” - Monty Williams


Injury Status Report

Phoenix: Dario Saric (Knee) Out for the season.

Milwaukee: Donte DiVincenzo (Foot) Out for the season.


Rookie Playoffs Report

Jalen Smith - 6 games played, 2.9 mpg, 0.8 ppg, 0.8 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.0 spg, 0,0 bpg, 1.9 PF, 0.2 TO

Ty-Shon Alexander - 1 game played, 1.3 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0,0 bpg, 0.0 PF, 0.0 TO


News & Notes

Moving in for the Killbox. The Ringer

Finals MVP Ladder: Devin Booker embraces spotlight, leads race after Game 2. NBA.com

‘It’s not an accident’: Suns general manager James Jones has made most of opportunity. The Undefeated

‘Reps remove doubt’ meant Mikal Bridges was due for a big NBA Finals game. Gerald Bourguet/The Step Back

Suns’ Synergy in Its Starting Unit Propels Finals Run. Sports Illustrated

Jae Crowder’s Playoff Experience Is His Greatest Asset, and He Knows It. The Ringer

Suns mirror the unselfish Detroit Pistons’ team Devin Booker grew up idolizing. The Boston Globe

The Bucks Traded Away Their Finals Secret Weapon for Cash. The Ringer

Why Suns star Devin Booker did not start in his one season playing for Kentucky basketball. Courier Journal


Previewing the week ahead

Wednesday, July 14 - Phoenix Suns @ Milwaukee Bucks 6:00 pm AZT (ABC)

Saturday, July 8 - Phoenix Suns vs Milwaukee Bucks 6:00 pm AZT (ABC)

Just two games this week following two days off before each of them. I’m fully expecting the Suns to bounce back and squeeze out a close win in Milwaukee on Wednesday night to go up 3-1. Following that, I think they will close out this series at home this Saturday. It won’t be easy but I believe they’re up to the challenge.

My prediction is Suns in 5... but maybe this guy’s prediction (below) is more reliable. He’s done really well so far this season.

What’s your prediction?


Important Future Dates

July 29 - NBA Draft.

August 1 - Chris Paul’s Player Option deadline.

August 2 - 2021-22 season Free Agency period begins (6 pm ET).

August 6 - Moratorium ends (12:01 p.m. ET). Free agents can officially be signed.

August 8-17 - NBA Summer League 2021 (Las Vegas).

September 28 - Training camps for 2021-22 season open.

October 19 - First day of the 2021-22 regular season.


COTS2 : Inside the Suns with the Fantable, trivia, weekly history, etc. will be published later this week.