PHOENIX SUNS

Williams: Suns must help Deandre Ayton avoid foul trouble

Jul 12, 2021, 1:00 PM | Updated: Aug 17, 2021, 7:22 am
(Mark J. Rebilas/Pool Photo via AP)...
(Mark J. Rebilas/Pool Photo via AP)

(Mark J. Rebilas/Pool Photo via AP)

The Phoenix Suns suffered their worst lost of the postseason on Sunday, and it wasn’t pretty.

Phoenix shot a series-low 29% from behind the arc and had 15 turnovers in the team’s 120-100 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

A key component to the Suns’ blowout defeat was center Deandre Ayton getting into foul trouble. He tallied his fourth foul less than two minutes into the third quarter, causing head coach Monty Williams to sit Ayton the rest of the period.

As a team, Phoenix committed 24 personal fouls, which led to the Bucks going 20-of-26 from the charity stripe.

Williams did not blame the referees for the team’s loss, but he pointed out the discrepancy of the foul calls.

“I’m not going to get into the complaining publicly about fouls. Just not going to do that. But you can look — we had 16 free throws tonight. One person had 17,” Williams said postgame.

That one person was Milwaukee’s star forward and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

He went 13-of-17 from the free throw line and finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

Three of Ayton’s five fouls occurred when he was defending a Bucks player driving to the basket.

“We got to figure out or define what is a legal guarding position because there are times where [Ayton] can move his hands out of the way, but it’s hard to tell a guy what to do when somebody is running into you,” Williams said.

“I don’t know what a legal guarding position is at times.”

Because of foul trouble, Ayton only played 24 minutes compared to the first two games of the Finals where he averaged 40 minutes.

He finished Game 3 with 18 points, nine rebounds and two steals.

Attacking Ayton and getting him to commit early fouls looks like the plan going forward for Milwaukee, but Phoenix looks to counter it.

“… We have to understand how the refs are calling the game and then adjust to that,” Williams said.

“There’s a ton of physicality in the game, for sure, but as far as teaching [Ayton], we got to look at the film and see where he can have better body position and pick up some charges when they present themselves.”

Despite the loss, the Suns still lead the series 2-1. They were the best team on the road this regular season (24-12) and hope to prove that in Game 4 in Milwaukee.

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

Owner Robert Sarver of the Phoenix Suns attends the NBA game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Pho...
Arizona Sports

Tumultuous week led to Suns owner Robert Sarver’s decision to sell

A new report details more behind-the-scenes information that resulted in Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver's decision to sell the team.
1 day ago
Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los An...
Kellan Olson

Cam Johnson ready for elevated role with Suns in Jae Crowder’s absence

While Jae Crowder's impact will be missed, Phoenix Suns wing Cam Johnson has proven he's ready and deserves to be a starter.
1 day ago
Head coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns talks with Deandre Ayton #22 in the second half of ga...
Dan Bickley

Silence between Deandre Ayton, Monty Williams defies all expectations

The indifference of Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams is stunning. So much that it must be the entire point, writes Dan Bickley.
1 day ago
Deandre Ayton #22 and Head coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns react during Game Four of the W...
Kevin Zimmerman

Deandre Ayton: Monty Williams hasn’t spoken to him since Game 7 vs. Mavs

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton did not quell concerns about his unhappiness at media day Monday. Tuesday made clear there is a problem.
1 day ago
Dallas Mavericks forward Davis Bertans (44) gets fouled by Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) du...
Kevin Zimmerman

What the Suns could get back in a Jae Crowder trade

Five potential landing spots for Jae Crowder and what the Phoenix Suns could get in return for the veteran.
2 days ago
Williams: Suns must help Deandre Ayton avoid foul trouble