DimeMag

The Suns Continue To Be The Best Shot-Making Team In The Playoffs

The Phoenix Suns held homecourt with a 118-108 win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Thursday thanks, once again, to their incredible ability to make timely shots.

Throughout this postseason, the Suns have shown a knack for recognizing the big moments of a game and stepping up to them, thanks in large part to the ruthless nature of their star guards, Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Game 2 was, overall, defined by Phoenix’s outside shooting, as they were 20-for-40 from deep, making the difference against a 9-for-31 night from the Bucks from three-point range. However, it wasn’t just the volume of makes — the timeliness of them allowed the Suns to always maintain a fairly comfortable edge against Milwaukee.

On multiple occasions in the second half, the Bucks made runs to cut the Suns lead down to two or three possessions, but every time they did, the Suns — and often, specifically, Booker — had a response. On three occasions in the second half, Booker hit a contested three-pointer to push Phoenix’s lead back to nine or ten points, refusing to let Milwaukee completely close the gap.

Booker would follow that last one up with another three — this time getting wide open off the ball — to push the Suns lead to 13, as the Bucks simply had no answers for the Phoenix shot-making display.

Late in the fourth, it was Paul’s turn to put a dagger of his own in the Bucks, which should be commended for their resiliency even if they could never quite reel the Suns in. Paul knocked down a corner three off of some tremendous glass work from Deandre Ayton to get a second possession for Phoenix while up six.

Part of what makes the Suns so frustrating to play against is these types of showings from Paul and Booker aren’t outliers. Sure, Phoenix can’t shoot 50 percent from three as a team every night, but the shot-making abilities of their two stars have been proven to be sustainable. There are so many possessions where you can apply the “great offense beats great defense” axiom to the Suns, as Paul and Booker leave defenders shaking their heads, wondering what else there is to do. The answer is nothing and to keep trying to play good defense, but the more those shots go in, the more defenses get frustrated and try pressing the action, which is when someone shakes free for a wide open look.

Against a Bucks team that struggles with consistent shot making, that skill very well could be the difference in the series, as Paul and Booker are capable of regularly making contested jumpers over good defense, a necessity against a team as good on that end as Milwaukee. The adjustments for Milwaukee going forward will probably be subtle ones. The small lineup got punished on the offensive glass in the fourth, allowing too many second chance opportunities to a team that takes full advantage of them, which likely means more Brook Lopez down the stretch in Game 3. Otherwise, much of what the Bucks did defensively worked how it’s supposed to, it’s just that Booker and Paul were better.

As hard as that is to accept sometimes, it’s the truth. You just tip your cap and move on. The concern for Milwaukee going forward has to be that those two are capable of doing that again, and two more efforts like that will send the Larry O’Brien trophy to the desert rather than Wisconsin.

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