Jrue Holiday’s key steal against Devin Booker shows that the Suns’ offense has bigger problems

With less than 30 seconds left in the crucial fifth game of the 2021 NBA Finals on Saturday night, the Suns trailed the Bucks by one point and Devin Booker took possession of the ball. Everyone in the center of the footprint-from his main guard PJ Tucker to the fans in the front row (Hello adele)-Know Booker wants to score.

This is where the problem lies. When Booker drove into the penalty zone, he not only had to contend with Tucker, but also with Giannis Antetokounmpo’s former Defensive Player of the Year. When Booker got stuck and tried to get rid of Tucker and Antetokounmpo, he met Juholetti, who abruptly ended his possession when snatching the ball from Booker.

more: The best highlights of Game 5 of the NBA Finals

Holiday started the fast break and found Antetokounmpo sliding down the floor for an air relay. This sequence ended Phoenix’s comeback hopes and gave Milwaukee a 3-2 series lead.

“To be honest, this is a great team defense,” Holiday said. “I think we knew Booker wanted to take the last shot, played a good defense against him, made him turn around, and then he turned to me. I think I just showed up in the right place at the right time.

This is not just a suitable place-it is the only place. The Suns’ offense has become too dependent on Booker to make things happen, and the Bucks know this.This is not the same team Release the 2013-14 Spurs atmosphere in the second game.

Although Booker scored 82 points and shot 55.7% from the field, Phoenix has lost the last two games. The numbers are impressive, but too many ball possessions allowed Booker to work in isolation and make a controversial mid-range jumper.

Through the five finals, Booker passed a total of 127 times. According to NBA.com tracking dataHe passed 92 times in the first three games of the series (30.7 per game), but only 35 passes in the last two games (17.5 per game). As a result, his potential assists dropped significantly.

“Yes, we have to change it,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “What do we know [Booker] It can be done with the ball, but one thing we are talking about is getting into the paint and looking for players in the backcourt. We think this is a formula. There were times tonight it just got stuck a little bit and it was bad for their defense, they didn’t have to work hard for it. So we can score in singles, but in order for the defense to work, we have to move it, and in order to beat this team, this is what you have to do. “

This is not to say that Booker should be blamed. He performed well in the Suns’ playoffs and has recently carried a huge burden. But when everyone on the field is touching the ball, the group is at its best, forcing the defenders to rotate instead of putting pressure on one person.

“We have ball sports in the game,” Williams said. “There are games where we didn’t shoot. Tonight, we shot anytime, anywhere, passing from side to side where the ball moved. Tonight is not enough. So this is the right thing we can do.”

When the Suns made 14 of 19 field goals and led 37-21, there must be a ball in the first quarter. However, this advantage did not last long, because the Bucks reduced the score from 16 to 3 at 8:41 in the second quarter. Phoenix couldn’t stop, but Booker didn’t play in that important game either. He sat down to start the game and did not re-enter the game until 6:14 before the end of the first half.

“We have always been a ball-sports team, and sometimes conversions will cause you to do this,” Suns guard Chris Paul said of stagnation. “We sometimes use it, sometimes we don’t. We will go back to the movies to see if we can do better.”

Phoenix is ​​now on the verge of elimination, but the good news is that the offense needs to be adjusted, not overhauled. One thing the Suns can do better is to create more opportunities from beyond the three-point line. In the second game of 40 three-pointers, the Suns made 20 times. In the past three finals, the Suns have made 31, 23, and 19 three-pointers.

“The ball, when it moves tonight, looks like the Suns basketball,” Williams said. “But we just didn’t produce enough three-pointers.”

They also need to arrange more stops, which will allow them to easily get conversion points, especially for role players who don’t normally produce their own offense. Any scoring outside of halftime is a big boost to the finals.

The main goal of Phoenix is ​​to break the typical offensive cycle.

Hand the ball to Booker. He tried to score because no one else did anything. No one else did anything because he was expected to score. Foam, rinse, repeat.

Yes, Booker’s talent is enough to make it work on a small number of properties, even a quarter. But the Suns already know that this is not the secret of success against the Bucks.

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