It seems like forever ago, but remember these Phoenix Suns from Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Finals?
— NBA (@NBA) July 9, 2021
Those Suns have been almost non-existent the past three games, not so coincidentally all three Bucks wins. putting Milwaukee up 3-2 in the series. A more physical Jrue Holiday staying on the Suns’ stars, plus the switching defense and varied looks the Bucks have given the Suns has pushed them — particularly Devin Booker — into more one-on-one, isolation basketball.
Monty Williams tried to put a more positive spin on it Monday.
“We have had a good balance of the kind of play that Devin brings, but we have also had the ball movement that can break you down. We have talked about that. We saw it in the fourth quarter [of Game 5], where the ball was whipping around the gym,” Williams said. “That’s basically how we cut (the deficit). And so the balance of that, but at the same time I do not want to get in the way of the gift that our one-on-one players have, because that’s why we are here. We wouldn’t be in this position if Chris and Devin couldn’t create their own shots. That’s a fact.
“We also have to have that balance of them doing that but then creating it for other people.”
Specifically, Williams has talked about Booker and Paul getting into the paint and finding a teammate on the backside or in the corner to get the ball. The Suns need more of the extra pass, guys giving up a good shot to get a teammate a great one.
Williams said that that also comes more naturally in transition, which means getting stops then the Suns getting out and running. He wants to see more of that in Game 6 Tuesday.
None of that will be easy in Milwaukee, where the crowd will be raucous inside and outside the building, and they smell blood in the water. One more win and Milwaukee will have its first NBA title since 1971.
“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy,” Paul said after Game 5. “We didn’t expect it to be. It’s hard. Coach said it all year long, everything we want is on the other side of hard, and it don’t get no harder than this.”