Through the early parts of these playoffs, one of the bigger problems the Phoenix Suns have faced on offense is a turnover-happy Kevin Durant.
Obviously he’s still suffering a bit from unfamiliarity with the team, having played 15 games now for Phoenix — after one more game, Durant will have played half his games in the playoffs too — but I’m holding him to a high standard because I know that’s what he’s doing for himself.
Looking at how the turnovers come, one thing that sticks out to me is how many more come on the road. He averages just 2.0 turnovers per game at home and 4.5 on the road, with games as bad as seven in game 1 of this series. In that, there’s the solace that comes with knowing games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday will be at Footprint Center in Phoenix.
Breaking down that fateful game 1, the first two turnovers came as a direct result of trying a little too hard to feed the ball to Deandre Ayton, even trying a bounce pass into the paint which are usually ill-advised even when the recipient is someone capable of handling bounce passes, unlike Ayton.
While three of the seven turnovers in game 1 came by way of Christian Braun getting all up in his business and stealing the ball, one of his two turnovers in game 2 came from Braun taking a charge on Durant. If he’s not careful, folks could be making the same jokes about Durant and Braun that they made about Chris Paul and Jose Alvarado after last year’s first round.
The fact of the matter is that in almost every instance of these turnovers, Durant is trying a little too hard to force the issue, yes, but also Denver is stunting and blitzing and doubling him every chance they get. There are a few different ways to combat that, one of which Monty Williams already plans on implementing: putting more dangerous offensive weapons around him.
With bigger threats around him, defenses will be forced to give Durant a little more breathing room, but certain actions can also weaponize the cluttered space to their advantage. Especially when Denver’s being overeager with sending lots of folks to disrupt screen actions, the Suns should consider creative actions.
I’ve already detailed how using Okogie as the screener can breed a very 0.5-offense type of solution, but the Suns should consider the same principles in bringing in Booker to pair with Durant and have them screen for each other, and spam it. Opponents can’t choose to double either one because the second they do, it’s one of them wide open by themselves or leading a suddenly-4-on-3 halfcourt possession.
Phoenix shouldn’t experience any offensive limitations when Durant is on the floor, and especially not when Booker joins him there. It comes down to being creative enough to allow your stars to play like stars while playing with the right pace at all times, never too fast and never too slow. If that happens and the two of them lock in at the same time, watch out.