Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Suns team as well as a peak at Suns teams throughout history in this week.
In this weekly article, we focus on you the community to tease out the good and bad of the Suns who finished the 2021 regular season with a 51-21 record to earn the 2nd seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They defeated the defending World Champion Lakers 4-2 in the first round, then swept the Denver Nuggets 4-0 in their second round playoff series and beat the Los Angeles Clippers 4-2 to become the Western Conference Champions.
After four games, the Suns/Bucks NBA Finals series is tied at 2-2 after each team won both of their games at home.
First up... the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders who give their takes on the Suns latest issues and news.
Fantable Question of the Week
Q1 - What do you think is causing CP3’s turnovers (15!) in Games 2, 3 & 4 and how concerned are you that his high TO rate will continue?
GuarGuar: I think Jrue has played good on ball defense on Chris the past few games. But it’s not like Milwaukee is trapping him or anything. Maybe his wrist is causing him issues I don’t know. I don’t think it will last and he will be back to being the point god we know. Another possible cause is we are speeding up the pace compared to what he’s used to and he’s just not used to ever playing at a pace that quick.
SDKyle: I think he’s pressing too much trying to make big plays against some defenders for the Bucks that have some pretty active hands and can force a lot of mistakes and swipe a lot of balls. I’m generally optimistic he will return to his elite ball protection ways, but if not it could be a problem in close games as we have seen.
SouthernSun: I don’t think any of us can know for sure, but there was talk of a hurt wrist. That’s definitely a possibility. It could be why his performance dropped off. But then again he was good in the first two games of this series and before that dropped 40 in the Western Conference Finals clinching game after news of that came out. Hopefully it’s mental and not physical, and he can overcome it.
Alex S: A few factors in regards to the Chris Paul turnovers:
- Jrue is wearing him down
- The Bucks are playing the passing lanes more than playing Chris as a scorer
- Nerves/sloppy play
I think Chris should be able to bounce back at home. Same way Book was able to bounce back from G3 to G4, I expect CP to be fine.
Rod: Although it’s been downplayed, we know the CP3 had some ligament damage in his right hand during the WCFs. I believe that it’s gotten worse and he’s just trying to play through it. If I’m correct, I doubt we will see any real improvement in the remaining Finals games unless he admits his present limitations to himself and plays a bit more conservatively. Giving Cam Payne more minutes and a bigger role might also be necessary.
Q2 - CP3 and Ayton combined for only 16 points while shooting a combined 36.4% from the field (33.3% for DA, 38.5% for CP3) in Game 4. Do you think this will correct itself or do the Suns have to make adjustments to get them better shots?
GuarGuar: I think it partially will correct itself but we could also make some minor adjustments. Milwaukee isn’t going to give DA the mismatches he got earlier in the series. And CP needs to be more aggressive looking for his shot in the pick and roll early in games. But part of it is just shot variance and they will bounce back.
SDKyle: No for CP3, yes for Ayton. The Suns won’t win with just their guards doing all the scoring, they can’t rely on Crowder or Bridges having one of those odd games where they go 6/8 from downtown, and Ayton is the best option by far to create a balanced and effective attack. Ayton getting more good looks will open CP3 up for his trademark elbow jumper.
SouthernSun: Ayton’s will definitely correct itself. He’s just been too consistent for this to happen again. However, some of his play is tied to how well CP3 is getting him the ball, and if CP3 isn’t playing well, then Ayton’s offensive game will suffer.
If CP3s wrist is the culprit, then it seems like it might be kind of a mixed bag of what to expect. If he can play like he did earlier in the series, but then play like game 4 too, then we don’t really have any idea. If it’s mental, I trust Monty to help him through it.
Alex S: I think it’ll correct itself but Chris is the main key. In my opinion, he needs to be more aggressive as a scorer early on. DA needs to continue to attack the glass and Monty needs to do his part by protecting Ayton from foul trouble early on in the game. My small adjustment would be to play Ayton off Giannis for the majority of the first half and get Torrey more minutes to guard him.
Rod: As I already said about CP3, I believe that his ligament damage has gotten worse which has effected not only his passing/ball handling but also his shooting. Because of this, I don’t expect his shooting to suddely fix itself. If this is the case, the only adjustment he and the Suns can make is just to have him attempt fewer shots. If he’s wide open, he has to take the shot but if not he should move the ball on to another teammate.
For DA, I think it should correct itself in the remaining games but his teammates need to be looking for him more when mismatches in the paint develop. He can’t score more if he doesn’t get the ball in his hands and he needs it in good position to score.
Q3 - It’s now a 3-game series with two the three remaining games in Phoenix. Both teams have won both of their home games. Do you think this will continue and the series goes the full seven games?
GuarGuar: It’s very possible this series now goes 7 games. I think whoever wins game 5 is going to win the series. And I’m confident this group won’t hang their heads and put up a great fight on Friday night. And I’ll be flying from Florida to cheer them on!
SDKyle: I think the series will be determined when one of these teams gets a road win. And I think it will be the Suns closing it out on the road in Game 6 after taking Game 5 at home this weekend. It would have been lovely for the Suns to close it out on their home floor and let it be an arena party for the ages, but I think these road warrior Suns can win one in Milwaukee and finally hang the banner five or more generations of Suns fans have longed to see.
SouthernSun: I have faith the Suns win game 5, after that, its all up in the air. However, I do think that winning game 5 might just give them enough positive momentum in the right direction to finally win a road game against the Bucks this series. It wouldn’t surprise me. But I do think the series probably goes the full 7. At this point. Before the series I would have guessed 6, but the Suns have definitely struggled a bit more than I expected in this one. Especially after the first two games. I thought they might sweep for a second there.
Alex S: Honestly, I do.
I said Suns in 5 and there was a chance to make that a reality last night but the Bucks deserve credit for playing with force and aggression. This is a true test and the series could easily go in any direction.
That being said, I believe in the Suns ability to bounce back and I believe our home court advantage will play a big factor in the remaining games. Can’t give up now.
Rod: I do not feel any panic over the two losses in Milwaukee. I expected one and Game 4 was within the Suns’ grasp but slipped away due to mistakes near the end. I don’t expect those mistakes to happen again, especially not in Phoenix. It would not surprise me at all if this series goes the full seven games with every game won by the home team.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week! (Sun-Arc did not participate this week.)
This Week in Suns History
On July 14, 2004, the Suns signed unrestricted free agency point guard Steve Nash to a six-year, $66 million deal to bring their former 1996 1st round draft pick home after trading him to Dallas in 1998 for Pat Garrity, Martin Müürsepp, Bubba Wells and a 1999 1st round draft pick (which was later used to draft Shawn Marion).
On July 18, 1999, Joe Proski, the Phoenix Suns’ only trainer in its history to that point, retired, following 32 years with the franchise, 40 years in professional sports, and 41 years as a trainer. His career spanned 2,789 games, including playoffs.
On July 18, 2001, the Suns traded Chris Dudley and Jason Kidd to the New Jersey Nets for Stephon Marbury, Johnny Newman and Soumaila Samake.
Interesting Suns Stuff
What’s going on with Chris Paul? | KJZ
How Much Pressure Is On Chris Paul After The Suns’ Game 4 NBA Finals Loss to the Bucks?
Devin Booker has scored 542 points in his first appearance in the NBA playoffs. This is the highest point total by a player in his first playoff appearance in NBA history. The former record holder is Rick Barry who scored 521 points in 1967 with the San Francisco Warriors.
Most 40-point games in first career playoffs:
- 5 — Rick Barry
- 3 — Devin Booker
- 3 — Wilt Chamberlain
Against the Lakers, Nuggets and Clippers (14 games), Chris Paul had a total of 22 turnovers and averaged 1.6 per game. In the 4 games against Milwaukee he has a total of 17 turnovers and is averaging 4.25 per game.
In Game 4 the Suns made 51.3% of their field goal attempts while the Bucks made only 40.2% of their FG attempts. It was the first time in NBA History that a team lost a Finals game while shooting better than 50% and holding their opponents below 42%.
Opposing 40-point games in the same Finals game in NBA history:
- 2021 — Middleton and Booker
- 2001 — Shaq and Iverson
- 1993 — Jordan and Barkley
- 1969 — West and Havlicek
In NBA Finals history there have only been two triple overtime games and both those games came in each of the Suns’ two prior trips to the Finals. Despite Gar Heard’s “Shot Heard ‘Round The World” in the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” the Suns lost Game 5 of the 1976 Finals in 3-OT at Boston, but the Suns won 129-121 in 3-OT at Chicago in Game 3 of the 1993 Finals.
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “The Suns will...”
78.4% - Win the Finals in 4-5 games.
17.2% - Win the Finals in 6 games.
03.5% - Win the Finals in 7 games.
00.9% - Not win the Finals.
A total of 227 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Will Chris Paul return to - or near to - his best form before the Finals are over?
This poll is closed