Phoenix Suns: 3 Keys to Victory Over the Lakers in Game 3

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns Key to Victory #2 – Dictate the Game’s Pace

Perhaps the most notable difference between Phoenix’s play during their Game 1 victory and their Game 2 demise dealt with who controlled the game’s tempo. En route to a win last Sunday, the Suns moved notably well while transitioning, collecting 16 fast break points. For perspective, during the playoffs this thus far NBA teams are only scoring a collective 10.4 fast break points per game.

Things slowed down though during Game 2, as the Suns only scored four points on the break. The Lakers instead took charge, forcing the Suns into half-court offensive sets. This likely came as a side effect to the minute limitations put on Chris Paul, who serves as the team’s primary ball handler, playing 13 less minutes during Game 2 due to a lingering injury.

The good news for Phoenix? They know that permanently reestablishing their point guard into the rotation can fix this issue. The bad news? Their point gaurd’s health remains a serious question mark. We know Paul fights hard and wants to play even amidst his injury concerns. He illustrated this most recently by his decision to continue playing during Game 1 despite clearly suffering from some pain, and by his persistence to play again just three days later. However, only time will tell how effective he will be tonight.

With his ball handling skills having improved this season, Booker remains a solid option for Phoenix to run their offense through, but he still remains worlds away from Paul as a floor general. During the regular season, the Suns involved Paul seemingly with everything as he averaged a team high 77.4 touches per game, while Booker drops off significantly at 56.2 per game.

Nobody kickstarts this team’s free running offense like Paul, and consequently nobody takes command over an entire game’s pace like him. The Suns need him back if they hope to win this game and this series for several reasons, and this comes as just another one.