Phoenix Suns: Good lessons from a bad night in Boston

Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics (Photo by Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics (Photo by Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Phoenix Suns primary problem was not the second game of a back-to-back … on the road … against playoff teams … on the East Coast.’


The problem was 6 for 35.

The Phoenix Suns are in a great position with just a handful of games before the postseason and able to apply tough lessons learned down the stretch.

Even with Thursday’s cold-shooting trouble, this team, which posted consecutive road wins over Milwaukee and Philadelphia, is ready for its playoff test.

The Suns’ primary problem could well have been trying to contain a healthy Kemba Walker, whom coach Monty Williams compared with Steph Curry and Damian Lillard for the Celtics’ guard’s “downhill” scoring ability, his “stoppin and poppin” en route to 32 points.

But it wasn’t.

The problem was 6 for 35, an awful night from 3-point land.

Phoenix Suns lesson 1

The officials simply are not going to come around to Devin Booker’s way of thinking. They have not — and probably will not, at least this season — give Booker the benefit of the doubt on close calls.

So it really becomes a waste of energy — and technical fouls. Just assume the calls are going to keep going the same way. And continue to play harder.

The effort is never a question, either, with this team. The Suns outscored the Celtics 46-30 in the paint.

Phoenix Suns lesson 2

Chris Paul will take care of the playoff-style offense needed in a postseason series. Whether he’s needed to score, distribute, make a steal or just continue to lead the team, Paul is indispensable.

He found answers during the second half Thursday night that kept the offense from fully disappearing. And by doing so, he had the Suns in position to win a game they probably had no business winning.

Paul didn’t have much to do with the rebounding against Boston, however.

The Suns lost the board battle 38-28, and that will happen when you’re 6-35 from 3-point range.

Phoenix Suns lesson 3

On a night when the team couldn’t throw the ball cleanly into the East River, the Suns were within nine points and had plenty of time to complete an improbable rally.

That has to feel good. Lose by 13, hold the opponent under 100 and realize that — mathematically, anyway — had you hit 11 of your 35 3-point tries, you stood a very good chance to win.

This collection of lessons has to carry even more impact when the Suns find themselves able to play in a series. The smarter team; the one better able to make pregame and in-game adjustments, stands the better chance to win a series.

Or a few of them.

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