EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Kevin Durant preaches execution over ‘rah-rah speeches’ for Suns

Apr 25, 2024, 3:40 PM | Updated: 3:55 pm

Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns warms up before the start of game one of the Western Conferenc...

Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns warms up before the start of game one of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center on April 20, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Much has been speculated about what is going on with the Phoenix Suns given the fashion of some of their losses this season. The speculation continued after they fell into an 0-2 series hole versus the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round.

A competitive, close game was gone in a flash after Phoenix collapsed across a 10-minute stretch that began in the mid-third quarter, a 33-13 Minnesota flurry that went from the Suns up three to trailing by 17.

Suns forward Kevin Durant after practice on Thursday answered a few of the types of questions that have followed these performances.

First up was if the team’s communication is in a good place.

“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “We just didn’t play well. We just didn’t execute. You can talk all you want but if you don’t execute what you just talked about, it does you no good. Talking and rah-rah speeches and all that stuff is cool to a certain point but you gotta go out there and execute, and I think we haven’t done that. We’ve done it in spurts, don’t get me wrong. … But it’s not good enough doing it in spurts.

“Sometimes you just gotta do it instead of thinking too much or talking too much. We’ve got guys who have done that before, who’ve understood it’s just about getting the job done at the end of the day regardless of what’s being said or how you feel or what’s on your heart as a person or player — just get your job done. I think we’ll do that but we got to put it together consistently and I think that’s what our season has been.”

Communication was presented as an issue because Devin Booker has been vocal about it all season and mentioned it again following the loss in Game 2.

Durant was also asked about the team being on the same page behind closed doors.

“Of course,” he said confidently. “We’re around each other every day, we’re committed to this grind together for sure. We agree on everything all the time. We have constant communication on what may work. (Have) we got different perspectives in that locker room? Of course, that’s what great teams do. Everybody understands the mission, everybody is in this together.”

Durant was then presented with how the playoff experience that he, Booker and Bradley Beal have can be a strength in a moment like this, down 0-2.

“Just gotta go out there and do your job, man,” Durant said. “I could give a speech about what it’s like in the playoffs or what a series is like being down 0-2 or coming back — I could go give that speech in the locker room all I want. We still gotta go out there and execute the gameplan that we got in place and go out there play as hard as we can and just get this one win.

“Possession-at-a-time basketball. … At the end of the day, these guys know what it is around this time. It’s playoff time. Everybody understands it. I don’t think we gotta do anything extra.”

A follow-up on the importance of staying on the same page followed.

Durant again emphasized that everyone is aligned. He then noted that after certain losses, “It’s definitely gonna look like (the Suns aren’t playing together) because we lose the game, but once you dig deeper into who we are as a team, be around us every day and see what we do and how we grind every day as a team, you wouldn’t ask those questions, but I get it. A lot of people don’t see the inside.”

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