The Phoenix Suns saw themselves succumb to the ramifications that turnovers, especially of the live-ball variety, presented in their 104-113 loss to the Toronto Raptors. A game that saw six ties and six lead changes felt tougher than it needed to.
Solid offensive play, defense, and rebounding were killed by all the turnovers.
1.) Turnovers Galore
25 turnovers for the Suns was a self-induced adversity that would be far too steep of a mountain to climb on Friday. It was, by far, their highest total of the season.
What truly did them in, however, were the ones of the live-ball variety, which had uncharacteristically become a common theme over the month of December.
The Suns, in 21 games prior to December, had just two with double-digit live-ball turnover showings. In 16 December games, and capped off by Friday's compilation, they amassed an atrocious six games where their ball security was completely lacking.
The issue with live-ball turnovers is, obviously, you’re presenting opponents with the advantage of attacking your defense when it’s most vulnerable, in transition in something less than full length of the court.
Add to that the momentum and garnering of pace that are also a byproduct when they become a constant, and you can see just how impactful they are upon the outcome of a game.
That played a huge part in the Raptors finishing the game with 10 more attempts at the basket.
“That was the story of the night, and it was the kinds of turnovers. Guys throwing one-handed, left-handed passes. Trying to make interior passes against a defense that clogs the paint when the three-ball on the backside was there all night.”
Coach Williams’ sentiments postgame were very candid.
“You take half of those turnovers away, it’s possibly a different game.”
Of their 27 turnovers, 15 (55.6%) were via the live-ball variety.
On the season now, their live-ball turnover percentage (51.37%) now ranks 23rd.
It’s an area they must clean up.
2.) Efficient Shooting
The sad part about the performance, which takes a backseat to the turnovers, is how well they fared when they allowed themselves an opportunity, within their sets and off-script play, to actually get attempts up at the basket.
They had their 12th-best outing in terms of shot quality, ninth-best in eFG% (59.15), and sixth-best in TS% (63.58%).
Chris Paul continued to ascend back to the quality of basketball that makes him the Point God, blending playmaking and defensive activity with scoring (especially from deep). Mikal Bridges, also, was able to get out on the break more often than he has in quite some time (due to the lack of team defensive activity), resembling the road running force that frustrates opposing teams.
The team would play extremely well off of the primary play of those two.
As a team, they’d shoot 51% from two, and had their sixth-best outing from deep, at 46.7%.
Of the team's 14 makes from deep, half came from the bench, via Wainright (3-4), Lee (2-2), Saric (1-3), and Washington Jr. (1-5). Shooting 50%.
Was impressive to see, especially with the increased opportunity these players are seeing.
3.) Quiet Quality Minutes Compiled
Speaking of increased opportunity, Ish Wainright saw some of the most productive full-game stretches of his career.
A season-best nine points and four steals, with two rebounds, isn’t all that impressive of a stat line to most.
That’s why it’s important to use the boxscore in addition to watching games, as Wainright was one of the most effective Suns on the night.
He was elite in time on task with his three-point shooting, playing off of the extra attention given to the ball from Toronto, drawing two charges, and with a game-best six deflections.
Was his best game in my estimation, as a cog in a bench unit that all registered positive (or neutral in the case of Washington Jr.) marks in +/-.
Was exactly what the team would ask for from him, or any Suns ancillary wing, on a nightly basis.
He also knocked down a no-dip three from the corner which is wildly impressive, given the touch and feel required, especially considering the brute strength he has.
Up Next: The fifth of this six-game road trip takes the Suns to New York, for an early afternoon match-up with the 19-18 Knicks on Monday.6
They’re 8-10 at home, and, over the last two weeks, have the fourth-best offensive efficiency (121.5).