Suns, Monty Williams tuning out the noise prior to matchup with Lakers
Heading into Game 1 of the playoffs, the odds are stacked against the Phoenix Suns as seemingly every media outlet and bookmaker has the Los Angeles Lakers as the favorite to win.
But to head coach Monty Williams and his squad, it’s just another game.
“Did anybody think we were going to win 51 games this year in a shortened season? I don’t think so,” Williams said Friday. “So why would we listen to those people now?”
It’s the first time in at least 30 years that a No. 2 seed has been billed as the underdog against a No. 7 seed, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
And while it is the franchise’s first playoff berth in 10 years and nerves are natural, that chip-on-the-shoulder mentality can definitely be motivating. However, Williams said it reaches a point where the outside noise doesn’t matter anymore.
“You hear it and you use it as motivation, but it’s limited in how much it can consistently motivate you. At this point in the season, you have to be self-motivated for sure,” the head coach said. “But we all hear it. I’d be lying if i said i’ve tuned it out.”
Devin Booker, preparing to make his first playoff appearance, said he doesn’t just tune out the noise around big games, but every day as all he wants to do is get on the court and win.
“Somebody that texted me yesterday was like, ‘They have you guys losing.’ I ask them ‘Who are they?’ That’s the approach every day,” he said. “We have a good group in this locker room from top to bottom that’s focused on winning basketball games and that’s it.”
Some discussion has gone as far as saying Phoenix is unlucky it has to face the defending NBA champions in the first round, especially after seeing the performance the Lakers pulled off against the Warriors in the Western Conference play-in game.
“Everything you want is on the other side of hard. Right now, the Lakers are our hard. That’s how we look at it,” he said.
“It’s a privilege. … We look at the progress, we look at the journey, we look at all the hard work and it’s paying off. From that standpoint, we’re pretty excited.”