Passing display: Suns fire 10 passes before Deandre Ayton and-1
The Suns have built a foundation on sharing the ball, even as their backcourt tandem put together yet another historically strong game.
During Phoenix’s 118-108 win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, one play exemplified that spirit the best.
After getting the ball across the halfcourt line with the Milwaukee Bucks scrambling on defense, the Suns passed the rock 10 times to keep an effort-filled defense moving.
Eventually, it broke down.
great scrambling defense and it just doesnt matter. Suns basketball. pic.twitter.com/aPq9A3LIu0
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) July 9, 2021
Deandre Ayton finished the play wide open and finished the impressive passing display with an and-one.
You could see the glee of the entire Suns team afterward, as three players not named Ayton flexed a fist.
If you need to rewatch that to count how many passes were thrown, let these Suns fans help you:
Count 'em out Suns fans!
🔊Sound on. pic.twitter.com/W1jKx9DZPn
— David Kevin (@theIVpointplay) July 9, 2021
“We actually talked about that play right after the game, me and Mikal (Bridges), and he was like, ‘I think that was the most pumped I’ve ever been after a play,’ and I was like, ‘Me, too. Same here.’
“When you’re playing like that, it’s fun. It’s fun, everybody’s touching it, you feel the energy of the ball. When you get it, you want to make a play for somebody else and something opens up always when it’s popping and moving like that.”
Though the Suns have been carried by their backcourt of Booker and Chris Paul, the passing attack came out as they buried 20 threes in Game 2. Phoenix finished with 26 assists.
“We have a saying with our team: ‘It’s called good to great,'” Paul said. “We pass up good shots to get great shots and it’s the unselfishness of our team. Any coach in America, I’m sure they would love to show their team that clip, and DA finishes at the end.”
Still, the ball movement and 20-of-40 three-point shooting came as Booker and Paul attacked despite a better defensive effort from Milwaukee compared to Game 1.
Their 113 combined points through the first two Finals games is the most by a starting guard duo in any Games 1 and 2 of the championship series since 1971, when such things have been tracked, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Booker and Paul, however, have empowered their teammates by being involved as willing passers as well.
“That’s just who we are,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “One of our pillars is sharing the ball. My time in San Antonio and being under (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) for all those years, I learned that when the ball moves like that, one, everybody gets to take ownership and, two, it can have an effect on the defense when you move the ball.
“Now it’s not commonplace in the NBA to have that many passes but that was a huge momentum play for us. But that’s who we have been for two years.”