Suns’ Mikal Bridges feels ‘comfortable’ in playoffs: ‘Got that taste last year’
The Phoenix Suns’ quest to return to the NBA Finals officially begins on Sunday in Game 1 of a first-round Western Conference matchup.
The winner of Friday’s play-in game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Clippers will earn the right to tip off in Phoenix at Footprint Center.
And after blowing a 2-0 lead in an eventual 4-2 series loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals last year, Suns wing Mikal Bridges is more than ready to get back to basketball’s biggest stage.
“We’re built for the moment, we love to play, we love hoop and we want to win,” Bridges told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Thursday. “I get the pressure part obviously because everybody expects us to win but we expect to win too, so we got high expectations for us.
“We’re ready. We get everyone’s best all year and we love it. All it does is get us boosted even more.”
Bridges — who has never missed a game in his 309-game career — is leaning on his experience from last season’s Finals run.
The 25-year-old wing started in all 22 of the Suns’ playoff games last year and has now started in every contest for Phoenix in back-to-back seasons.
“I feel way more prepared as a player,” Bridges said. “Personally, just with last year being the first time of kind of not knowing what to really expect but kind of knowing now, having this time and how the coaches put the schedule together and everything, kind of had a feeling of what it could have been this year from last year.
“I’m comfortable, I got that taste last year. Excited to be back.”
Bridges averaged 11.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals on 32.1 minutes per game while shooting 48.4% from the field and 36.8% from three in last year’s postseason.
In 82 regular-season games this year, the Suns wing posted 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 assists on a career-high 34.8 minutes per contest while also shooting 53.4% from the floor and 36.9% from deep.
Bridges’ defensive prowess this season led him to become a candidate for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. The Suns wing also finished atop the final NBA.com Defensive Player Ladder.