PHOENIX SUNS

Suns’ Williams on Woj Pod: Booker hurt hamstring in Game 3 of Finals

Aug 13, 2021, 3:01 PM | Updated: 3:53 pm
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) works the ball against Milwaukee Bucks guard Bryn Forbes (7) du...

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) works the ball against Milwaukee Bucks guard Bryn Forbes (7) during the first half of Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

(AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Head coach Monty Williams has explained away his most curious decision during the Phoenix Suns’ loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals.

The rest of his calls? Those have led him to doing some mental gymnastics in the three weeks since his team lost the series in six games.

About the moment that drew the most criticism: Phoenix had a 2-0 series lead but trailed by 22 points heading to the fourth quarter of Game 3 in Milwaukee.

Shooting guard Devin Booker had struggled mightily, going 3-of-14 from the floor for 10 points in the game. But he didn’t appear in the fourth quarter, and while the Suns never got traction to make a comeback, his absence was notable because starters, including point guard Chris Paul, did see time in the final period.

“I don’t mean to be like that, but that’s between me and coach,” Booker said after the game. “We have that relationship so we keep that in house.”

On Friday’s edition of The Woj Pod, Williams told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski just what that decision was about.

“People didn’t know that Book was dealing with a hamstring deal in Game 3 and he got all kinds of flak for what he couldn’t do,” Williams said. “What people didn’t understand is he was basically playing out there on one leg. Those guys, because they are tough and never want to rely on excuses, would never say anything.

“That part bothered me because I heard all the stuff that was said about Devin and Chris in the Finals.”

Williams said Booker and Paul, the latter of whom dealt with a handful of injuries in the playoffs, never complained about their health problems — nor used them as excuses.

The Suns coach, though, admitted he has thought about the what-ifs. Most of those lingering thoughts while looking back to the four losses in a row are about what Williams did himself.

“I go back to our Game 3 preparation to get ready mentally and emotionally for that game. I felt like I probably overthought it in regard to the preparation because we lost. If we won I probably wouldn’t have thought about it at all,” Williams said.

It’s also weighed on Williams that the Suns and Bucks were tied going into the fourth quarter of Game 6, the series-clincher for the Bucks.

Milwaukee, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 50 total points, outscored the Suns by seven over the final 12 minutes to make the difference in the 105-98 game.

“I’ve gone back to that moment a ton the past few weeks, trying to figure out anything I could have done in that moment,” Williams said. “All you have to do is win one quarter, which is a tough task on the road against the best team in the NBA. You go through a ton of mental gymnastics and try to figure out something you could have said or a play your could have run or an adjustment.

“The irony is we beat them four times in a row (including regular season games), they beat us four times in a row. They just did it at the right time. That’s something that as a coach and as a leader will bother me for a long time, but I also think it will drive me to be better in those moments if I’m afforded that opportunity again.”

Phoenix Suns

(Twitter photo: Forbes)...
Wills Rice

Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker named on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list

Phoenix Suns superstar and local icon Devin Booker was named on Wednesday to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for 2022.
21 hours ago
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker cheers from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball g...
Arizona Sports

Devin Booker expected to miss ‘a few games’ with hamstring injury

Suns guard Devin Booker is expected to miss a few games with an injury suffered during win against the Warriors, reports Adrian Wojnarowski.
21 hours ago
Mikal Bridges #25 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on ...
Kellan Olson

Mikal Bridges’ energy, All-Defense-worthy skillset have yet to miss games for Suns

Phoenix Suns fourth-year wing Mikal Bridges has not missed a game yet and has done so in a role that requires more energy than any other.
21 hours ago
Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) celebrates with guard Chris Paul (3) during the second half...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns hit new heights, win 17th straight via team effort vs. Warriors

The Phoenix Suns kept playing as a team and eventually pulled away from the Golden State Warriors for their 17th win in a row.
21 hours ago
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives as Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges defends...
Jake Anderson

Suns’ Mikal Bridges forces Steph Curry to have career-worst shooting night

Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges was arguably the player of the game in Tuesday night's win at Footprint Center.
21 hours ago
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) shoots over Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney (5) during ...
Jake Anderson

Suns rally to beat Warriors after Devin Booker exits with hamstring injury

With a 104-96 win over the Golden State Warriors, the Phoenix Suns matched a franchise record of 17 straight victories.
21 hours ago
Suns’ Williams on Woj Pod: Booker hurt hamstring in Game 3 of Finals