Monty Williams’ pep talk leads to strong Game 2 finish from Suns’ Ayton

Jul 8, 2021, 9:56 PM | Updated: Jul 9, 2021, 1:19 am
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, left, reacts with head coach Monty Williams during the first hal...
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, left, reacts with head coach Monty Williams during the first half of Game 2 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks, Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

There’s a reason why coaches from around the league voted the Phoenix Suns’ Monty Williams as the 2020-21 NBCA Coach of the Year.

It’s because of moments like Thursday night during the 118-108 win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals over the Milwaukee Bucks to take a 2-0 series lead.

With just under eight minutes remaining in the contest and Phoenix up 98-88, Williams was seen and mic’d up for a pep talk with Suns center Deandre Ayton during a timeout.

“This is the deal: One, when getting back in transition, if you don’t have Giannis (Antetokounmpo), find a man and be a guard,” Williams told Ayton.

“Two, look at me — you’ve set a high level for yourself. That’s why you’re down. That’s great. So now go reach that level. You can reach it with force. It doesn’t have to be stats all the time. Go dominate the game with force. Because you’ve set a high level for yourself. Go dominate the game with force.”

Following the pep talk from Williams, Ayton did exactly what his head coach asked of him.

In the final 7:41 of Game 2, the Suns center compiled two points, three rebounds, one assist, one block and two steals.

With 4:13 left and Phoenix up six, Ayton grabbed an offensive board which led to a Chris Paul three to extend the lead to 106-97.

“It was huge. It was like the play of the game,” the Point God said. “DA, he’s so hard on himself.

“He’s so mad at how he played and whatnot, but I tell him if he doesn’t get that offensive rebound and find me there in the corner, that’s probably the biggest play of the game. So, it just shows you how we all have to stay the course.”

Ayton finished the night with a double-double of 10 points and 11 boards to go along with four assists, three steals and two blocks.

“I try to be an encourager in huddles, especially when I see a guy down or the team is not at the level where they should be mentally,” Williams said postgame. “I don’t want to make up stuff. I know what it’s like to be in those huddles and you want to know the truth, but you also need sometimes a pep talk, sometimes encouragement.

“I just try to be authentic and speak from the heart. Sometimes it requires me to shut up and not say anything. I think our players understand where I’m coming from when I come to the huddle I want to have something substantial to say or I’m just not going to say anything. So that’s just the way I approach it.”

Game 3 of the Finals is set to tip off on Sunday at 5 p.m. Catch all the action on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Suns Station.

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