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Stephen’s Study: Takeaways from Suns vs. Warriors

Slow start, again, plagues the Suns after valiant comeback efforts

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns had a disjointed and lackluster start in yesterday’s match-up with the desperate and hungry defending champion Golden State Warriors.

A 33-point first half from Klay Thompson set a pyrotechnic tone - that saw their lead balloon to as much as 25 - and made for far too steep of a deficit for the Suns to climb back from.

1.) Slow Starts

The Phoenix Suns are now 7-22 on the season when at a deficit after the first quarter. Exclusive to the road, they’re 1-16 in the same scenario.

Strong starts are an entity that was once a strong suit - as they’d come out of the gate dictating with their defense and flowing into their nuanced and quick-hitting offensive actions - but have not been a dynamic that their 2022-23 rendition has seen consistently on the road.

The Warriors simply wanted it more, early yesterday. As cliche as that is to say and as empty in analysis as it is to type, that’s simply the truth.

They were able to generate reaction advantage amidst the Suns switching both on-ball and off it and exploited the slightest hiccups they saw from the defense in a fashion that they’ve made a signature to observe.

Their hot shooting - at 72.7% from the field and from deep - naturally got the home crowd involved and made the Suns efforts in scrapping back that much more tumultuous.

“Their shot-making in the first quarter in general put us in a hole,” said Monty Williams. “There were a few breakdowns because of their own but I didn’t think it was a failing grade.”

Allowing 43 points in an opening frame, regardless of the setting, enables a different tone set by an opponent and makes the road back that much more arduous.

I don’t expect this to be a long-term issue, but in the present, it’s certainly a barometer for the Suns on a game-to-game basis.

2.) Three-point shooting woes

Over the last two games, the Suns have gone a combined 17-65 (26.1%).

There are ebbs and flows over the course of a season, however, the players that they need to knock down the types of looks that their offense generates consistently, are in need of a breakout game, collectively.

They’re 9-15 in games where they shoot below 34% from deep this season, and with the consistency of the looks they’re able to generate, this shouldn’t be an issue that sustains, just something to note.

3.) Points in the Paint

Where the Suns have been dominant is in the paint, where they’ve continuously found success and been able to maneuver their way.

Last night, they won that battle 64-46, and it was indicative of the successes they were able to compile particularly in the third quarter - where Deandre Ayton (11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 offensive rebounds) was able to set a tone via increased touches and multiple efforts on the boards.

Keeping this blend, collectively, in tandem with efficiency in converting on the shot quality they generate from deep will be an avenue they can win most games from - even sans Durant.

Film Session

Up Next

The Suns take on the Milwaukee Bucks, with both teams on the back end of a back-to-back.

The Bucks - with Giannis back in the rotation in their win in Sacramento last night - are coming into this one at 6-2 over the last two weeks.

They boast the fourth-best offense in this window (121.6) and couple that with the 13th-ranked defense (115.2).

Last time out, the Suns (sans Durant) and Bucks (sans Antetokounmpo) had a mud fight in Milwaukee that saw the Bucks squeak by with a 104-101 win.

The Suns saw issues generating looks from deep against this slightly altered Bucks defense, I’ll be keeping my eye on if they’re able to shake loose more frequently from deep - on efficiency, of course.

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