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‘I wanted it so bad’: Monty Williams reflects on Suns’ season, NBA Finals loss

Williams and Phoenix had an excellent season that came to a close on Tuesday night

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

Here is what Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams said after his team’s 105-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.

On what went wrong for the Suns in the fourth quarter of their loss:

“I mean, it’s a blur for me right now. I’m just thankful that God allowed me to be in this position to be the head coach in the Finals. It hurts badly, but I’m also grateful that we had this chance to play for a championship. I’m just grateful for that part. The fourth quarter, I mean, it’s pretty evident we couldn’t score enough. We had opportunities, a lot of shots in and out, but our transition offense tonight we couldn’t convert. We had a number of opportunities to get a layup, get a three and we just couldn’t do it. It hurt our defense. Our defense was really good tonight. If you look at what (Bucks superstar forward) Giannis (Antetokounmpo) did, you would be like, ‘But the rest of the team, they had 105 points.’ We shot 6-for-25 from three. We just couldn’t knock down those shots, couldn’t convert in transition, and if I had to point to anything in the fourth quarter, that was it, we just couldn’t convert.”

His thoughts on the play of backup center Frank Kaminsky and backup guard Cameron Payne:

“Frank was huge. That’s going to bother me all summer that I didn’t give him a shot in the last game. Not to say that he would have done the same thing, but he played his tail off tonight. Cam has been like that for us all year long. His ability to score the ball and push the pace was huge for us. In a game like this, you want to go with your guys and play a lot of our guys heavy minutes tonight, our starters. But to your point, Frank and Cam really helped us.”

On how long he thinks it will take for him to process the Finals loss and this season, and when he will be able to touch base with his players and take this entire season in:

“I don’t know. It’s my first time doing it. I’ve never dealt with this kind of hurt as a head coach. I don’t know. I just think that when you go through something like this for the first time, you don’t expect to get this far. So from that standpoint, what a huge accomplishment by our players to get to the playoffs for the first time and get all the way to the Finals and have a chance to play for a championship. Like, that’s hard to process. You typically get to the first round and you’re done. And you learn and then you try to get to the second round. We got all the way to the Finals. And that hasn’t been lost in my thinking. There’s just a pain that goes with your season being over, but I’ve never dealt with this and so I’m grateful, like I said, but I know this is going to hurt for a while. But I don’t want that to take away from what our guys did this year. They battled all year long and with all the testing and playing every other day to get to this point and have a chance to play for a championship. Like it’s unreal, you know, that our guys did this. So from that standpoint, I’m grateful and I feel for them, but I also expressed to them, now we know what it takes to get here. It’s going to be that much harder to get past this point and the reality is, you never know if you’re ever going to get back here. That’s why you have to take advantage of these opportunities, and they did. We just came up short.”

If there’s enough appreciation for Suns starting point guard Chris Paul in the general public, even though he has not won a championship:

“I don’t think any of those guys who are in that category are appreciated enough. It’s laughable when you talk about guys like Chris who have had these unreal careers and yet they get penalized because they haven’t won a title. You know, that was my goal, was to win it for him and (Suns starting shooting guard) Devin [Booker]. Those guys have carried us all year long. And Chris, this is my second time coaching him, I know what he puts into his craft, I know the dedication. And so when I hear those sentiments about his career because he hasn’t won a championship, it’s just silly. It’s hard enough to make it to the NBA, let alone be an all-time great, which is what he is.”

On going against a Bucks team led by superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo:

“I just think their experience in these moments was pretty evident. This is like their fourth or fifth time with this group and that means a lot. Him scoring the way that he did, if you look at the stats, they only had 105 points, that wasn’t the deal. He’s just a great player. But I just thought because they have been in these moments before, it made up the margins for them, especially in those moments where you need a stop, you need a bucket, there was no panic, there was no lack of poise. And it’s part of our journey, we have to go through it and I’ve been telling our guys that for two years, you have to go through what have you to go through, and there’s a deep hurt that you have to feel, and they felt it before and this is our first time. (Suns general manager) James [Jones] and I were just talking, and he said he’s felt it four times in the Finals, you know, that kind of thing. So, that’s what I saw tonight, not just a guy that was putting up numbers and is a great player, but I saw a team that had a lot of experience in playoff situations.”

On what this season means for Paul’s legacy:

“Yeah, I just think it speaks to his greatness. He’s a generational player, I said that 11 years ago when I coached him in New Orleans. And everywhere he’s gone, the team has won. They have improved. He’s been close. He was an injury away from getting here before, but he along with Book, to lead a team that’s never been there to this point says a lot about their talent, their dedication, the will to win. Speaking of Chris, he’s done it everywhere he’s gone. So, every time I’ve coached him I’ve had a lot of success with him and I’m grateful for that and grateful for all of our guys that give it to us every single day. I don’t take that for granted. Players that allow you to coach them, the relationships that we have off the floor, Chris and I, he’s the kind of guy that goes and seeks out my daughter when they’re at All-Star events. That’s who he is. That doesn’t get talked about. So, in speaking of his career, you’re not going to find many point guards ahead of him and you would be hard-pressed to find a lot of players ahead of him when you talk about all-time greats.”

On processing what he learned from coaching in his first Finals:

“I think it’s going to take me a minute. I just don’t take it for granted. It’s hard to get here and I wanted it so bad, you know. It’s hard to process right now. It’s hard. That’s all.”

After his postgame presser here, Monty went into the Bucks locker room and congratulated them for making him a better coach and the Suns a better team.

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