EMPIRE OF THE SUNS
Phoenix Suns get back to work, await results of play-in tournament
PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns have days off and then they have blackout days. The latter is still a day off but one where the Suns’ staff doesn’t want anyone in the building.
Because on “days off,” the majority of the players will still come in and get some work done, so head coach Monty Williams gives those guys some required time away from their gym.
A blackout day came on Monday following the conclusion of the regular season on Sunday before a typical day off on Tuesday, one in which Williams saw guys running full-court sprints during and getting other training in while he met with the coaches. The Suns will likely practice each day the rest of the week until Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs on Sunday. Their opponent, of course, remains a mystery until the play-in tournament wraps up on Friday night.
Williams has mentioned how it’s going to be natural for some teams to “decondition” a bit with this week without games, and like the Suns’ will they/won’t they with resting starters the last few weeks, there isn’t a concrete way for how to approach this stretch.
“There is a balance of trying to get 5-on-5 in because we have this week off. … I don’t have great answers for what we should do,” Wiliams said Wednesday.
Since the Suns don’t know who they are playing, Williams said they might as well work on themselves. They had a presentation before Wednesday’s practice on things like transition defense, defensive rebounding, new wrinkles to the defense and points of emphasis on offense before working through it on the court.
It’s a “self-scout” where the Suns want to get two or three of their own individual wins in terms of aspects of their game that will be better before opponent preparation really kicks into high gear.
During that coaches meeting on Tuesday, Chris Paul was FaceTimed in at a certain point and the coaches changed up something they were working through. Again, those are “off days” for this group. They never stop.
Practice has been over for a bit and CP3 was about to head off the court before talking to Monty Williams about something and now they are going through on the court whatever came up in their discussion. Never stops with this group. pic.twitter.com/GTuyPJcAey
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) April 13, 2022
Williams said after Sunday’s regular-season finale that it’s almost an identical setup to how the Suns approached this process last year after waiting as the two-seed. The difference this time around as the No. 1 seed is they now have to see two extra days go by before finding out who they play.
The last thing it sounds like Paul is doing is overthinking this time waiting, or rather, thinking much about it at all. He provided an “I guess,” “Sure, I don’t know” and “is what it is” when it came to questions on how the week goes.
“Man, I think we gotta take it just one day at a time,” Paul said Wednesday. “We talk about it took us a whole year to get back to this point so now I think the question is what we going to do with this opportunity.”
CAM PAYNE UPDATE
Backup point guard Cam Payne was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. Payne missed the Suns’ last two games of the regular season due to a sore right knee. He said that was something that flared up against the Los Angeles Lakers on April 5, and when he tried a move the following day versus the Los Angeles Clippers, his right leg gave out on him. That was an indication to him it was bothering him and in his head.
Payne went out for his usual individual pregame warmup on Friday in Utah and assistant coach Jarrett Jack, who runs through the shooting drills with Payne, noticed Payne was off and brought it up. The decision then came for Payne to sit.
“It’s feeling good,” Payne said Wednesday. “We’ll be good for Game 1. I’m fine, knee’s fine.”