Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
The Suns are off to a 1-0 series lead following a solid performance in game one by their starters and key bench players. It was a little bit worrisome that they let Dallas cut into their lead in the 4th quarter and make the final score look as though it was a closer game than it was but just a little bit.
I don’t usually post game highlights here but this was the play of the game for me.
JaVale McGee pickpockets Luka and SLAMS it down!
Game-2 is tomorrow night, same time, same place... and hopefully same result.
And now, on to the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders who give their takes on the Suns latest issues and news.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - Do you believe that all the minutes CP3 had to play (and extra energy he had to expend) against the Pelicans could be detrimental in round 2?
GuarGuar: Given his playoff injury history it’s not very encouraging the minutes he was forced to play in round 1. But I’m optimistic this time off before round 2 will help everyone heal and be ready.
Sun-Arc: Sure, there is a chance Paul will be a little gassed for the next series. And also a chance that it leads to an injury. Plus it’s not like the much younger and dynamic Brunson is an easy defensive assignment for CP3. But that’s life in the fast lane of the NBA playoffs.
A lot will depend on whether Booker is healthy and Payne can return to 2021-playoff-form. If they both prove worthy of big minutes I think Paul’s mileage from the Pels series will not be much of an issue at all.
But either way I expect the Suns to get past the Mavs.
SouthernSun: Absolutely it could be detrimental. We saw him break down at the end of last season. I really hope we don’t witness that again. The other guys are going to need to step up in the early games of the series against the Mavs. And that’s a tall ask given that Mikal is going to have all he can handle on the defensive side with Luka. I really hope Ayton steps up. I think Book and CP3 should act as glorified decoys for the first couple games of this series, unless that doesn’t end up being enough to stop the Mavs.
Alex S: It could potentially be detrimental down the road but we gotta take this one game at a time. The Pels put up a better fight than any of us could’ve anticipated but at the end of the day the Suns got through with their health trending in an upward direction.
My hope is Book looks to be 80%+ by game 1 and can take on more workload as the series progresses. Also, Payne needs a bounce back series and I think he can have one against a smaller Dallas team.
Rod: With Book back I’m not sure it’s going to be a big deal but if Cam Payne continues to underperform, CP3 could still be forced to play more minutes than I’d like to see him play in this series. If Dallas tries to harass Chris early on, Book and Crowder will need to help bringing the ball downcourt. A few choice picks may need to be set to force defenders to back off a bit too.
Q2 - What do the Suns need to concentrate most on to beat the Mavericks?
GuarGuar: I think we matchup much better against the Mavs on paper. They don’t have the size New Orleans had. We can stick Mikal on Luka. My concern is can we stop a guy like Brunson who is short and quick. Similar to Alvarado athletically but is a true scorer. He caused big issues for Utah last series. If we can limit him I think we are in good shape. We just need to stay healthy!
Sun-Arc: Lots to unpack with this next series- but if I have to focus on one area it would be: Energy. The Suns won the most games in the regular season because they outworked everyone else in 78% of their games. For some reason the team seemingly took the Pels lightly which made for a difficult series. They should not fall into the same mental trap.
With the Pels, the Suns seemed to think they could “flip the switch” and get wins when ever they wanted. The Pels gained confidence and really took our team apart in several quarters. That cannot happen again.
The Mavs play very good defense (4th best DRtg, 108.8, in the playoffs so far, to the Suns 12th @ 117.6). The two teams’ ORtg is closer (PHX 119.2 vs 115.0) and Dallas has a much better net-rating (DAL +6.2 vs +1.6). We must outwork them and keep composure.
SouthernSun: Making life as difficult as possible for Luka Doncic. They and we already know that. Also probably a lot of feeding Ayton inside against them. They really don’t have anybody who can match him. He should eat down there, as long as he plays aggressively, which isn’t exactly his strong suit. Then again... he does like the playoffs, and seems to usually turn it on a bit more in them.
Alex S: Biggest thing is punishing their small ball through DA. Deandre needs to average 20/10 at bare minimum this series. However, don’t force feed him since he’ll need the energy defensively to switch 1-5 and matchup with Luka at times.
Second biggest thing is make Luka work. Throw Bridges/Crowder/Craig/AND Johnson on him to mix in the looks and fatigue him. He’s going to score but make it difficult.
Lastly, alluded to earlier a bit but or bench needs to step up and be better than Dallas’ bench. Is that a big ask? I don’t think it is.
Rod: On offense, the Suns definitely need to feed Deandre Ayton the ball and attack the basket. Dallas is the worst team remaining in the playoffs in giving up points in the paint (they give up 48.7 per game) while the Suns are second in scoring in the paint (50.7 per game). Shoot enough threes to keep them from sagging on defense but concentrate on hurting them inside.
On defense, the Suns are going to have to play great perimeter D. Dallas leads everybody in three-point attempts (41.6 per game) and hits a very respectable 37.1% from downtown. 44.4% of their total points per game come from made three pointers, the highest percentage in the playoffs. They live or die by the three.
The Suns will also need to control the pace. Dallas has played at the slowest pace of all in both the regular season and the playoffs. The Suns were middle of the road (8th/9th) during the playoffs but were 8th in pace during the regular season. Dallas likes to play half court ball and the Suns need to push the pace to make them play faster than they like.
Q3 - What do you think the Mavericks will concentrate most on to try and beat the Suns?
GuarGuar: I think Dallas is really going to try and get us in foul trouble. Luka is an expert at foul baiting and I am concerned Book/Mikal/DA can be in foul trouble throughout this series. I think Kidd will trap Chris Paul and Booker more than New Orleans did. We are going to need our wings to shoot better than they did last round. Especially Jae Crowder.
Sun-Arc: The Mavs will have seen what the Pels did to us in those disruptive quarters. That’s what they’ll try to replicate. With this season’s defensive prowess they could manage to frustrate the Suns. They will also try to keep our 3pt% down (32% in the first round), which will be part of that disruption. The Mavs shot an average of 37% with by far the highest 3PAr so far in the playoffs - so if they succeed in keeping our shooting off-kilter we could be in trouble. (They also had a higher FTr than the Suns.) That’s why we will need energy and composure.
SouthernSun: I hope they concentrate on stopping Devin because I just want him to act as a decoy right now anyway unless we’re in dire straits. But their primary goal initially is probably to do everything they can to stop CP3. He’s the one who is pretty healthy, and he’s the guy that runs this whole team. Book is the lethal go get a bucket scorer, but CP3 is the one orchestrating the show. If they can disrupt him, they hurt every other player on the team who he makes better. Also they know Book isn’t 100% and they can shift their attention more to Paul.
Alex S: Mavs are going to try to throw everything at Booker and make the “others” beat them. I believe Mikal/Cam/Jae are going to need to step it up as a group this series offensively, specifically from deep.
I don’t anticipate them trying to play DA off the court, but rather live by the simple theory that 3>2.
Rod: They can’t best the Suns with a small ball lineup as they did with the Jazz but I don’t doubt them trying it. I also think they may try to take a page from the Pelicans’ playbook and try to play physical against CP3, perhaps even putting some full court pressure on to keep the pace slow and give them time to set up on D.
They also really have no one who can matchup really well with DA, JaVale or Biyombo on the inside so they might try sagging in on defense to try and keep the ball out of Phoenix’s big men’s hands to attempt to force the Suns into a long distance shootout. On paper, that could look like a good strategy as the Suns haven’t been a great three-point shooting team on most nights.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week!
Interesting Suns Stuff
after seeing how involved Devin Booker has been on the sidelines during the last three games, I asked Suns head coach Monty Williams and forward Jae Crowder if they see coaching in his future... this was their response @12SportsAZ @12News https://t.co/wUyT1M73ZZ pic.twitter.com/KJ8zcvkpq4— Lina Washington (@LWashingtonTV) April 28, 2022
Phoenix Suns 2nd Round Hype
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “How far do you think the Suns can go without Devin Booker?”
06% - Lose 1st round series.
32% - Make it to the 2nd round but lose.
47% - Make it to the WCFs but lose.
02% - Make it to the Finals but lose.
13% - Win it ALL!
A total of 234 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
The Suns’ series against Dallas will be...
This poll is closed
More difficult than the Pelicans series.
Easier then the Pelicans series.
About the same level of difficulty.