NBA Finals: 2 Ways the Phoenix Suns Run Away with Game 2 vs Bucks

Phoenix Suns, Mikal Brides, Jae Crowder. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Mikal Brides, Jae Crowder. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns need to once again push the tempo in Game 2

During Game 1, the Suns got running early and often with the ball in hand, grabbing 20 fast break points—their most all postseason by a great deal. As a strategy copied over from their initial playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers, another astute half-court defensive team, the Suns clearly know their best chance to score on the Buck comes with quick and decisive attacks.

However, we expect the Bucks to notice this as well, and properly react against it. Stopping easy transition point starts with ball security, so watch for the Bucks to tighten things up.

But with the Suns having built up their lead Tuesday night primarily by forcing turnovers and then pushing the ball down the court, they need to stay pesky despite the likely improvements coming from Milwaukee’s end. They absolutely cannot lock themselves into a toe-to-toe, possession by possession scenario, where we know Antetokounmpo can just bruise his way in for buckets on one end of the floor, while Milwaukee’s superior strength and size wins out on the other.

Instead, Phoenix played a 2-3 zone defense during their Game 1 victory, rather than their typical man-to-man defense. They need to stick this once again tonight.

The zone allowed the Suns to frequently double-team Giannis on his drives to not only help slow him down, but also easily step into passing lanes and force steals. This strategy can unfortunately open up shots along the perimeter, where we know the Bucks excel. However, the Suns still carry enough quick, yet tall defenders like Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and even Deandre Ayton to pop back out defensively and challenge shots even after collapsing inside.

With the zone still forcing easy steals and transition opportunities, the Suns can continue what worked so well for them two nights ago, playing to their strengths rather than Milwaukee’s, and take a 2-0 series lead.