Phoenix Suns: 3 Reasons Why the Suns Struggled in Game 3

Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns were yet to have a 20-point loss this postseason until Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. It is arguable that this was the worst game the Suns have played all playoffs as well. It likely will not happen again considering how well this team responds after a loss, but what went wrong in that game exactly?

Here are three things that went sideways from my perspective.

Wrong for the Phoenix Suns: The Fiserv Forum Playoff Curse

Blaming Milwaukee’s arena may seem a little odd, but each of the four teams the Bucks have played this postseason have had below-average performances whenever visiting Fiserv Forum. The most recent victim was the Suns in Game 3.

These types of performances date back to Game 2 of the Miami Heat vs Bucks series, where Miami lost 132-98, shooting just 40.0 percent from the field while only going 8-23 from beyond the arc. In the next series, we saw the offensive powerhouse of the Brooklyn Nets drop a season-low 83 points in their first trip to Fiserv Forum. Even in their other away games that series, the Nets could not break 100 points once.

There is something about Fiserv Forum that causes its visitors to play terribly on the offensive end more than anywhere else. The Suns had their case of the curse in Game 3. Suns fans have to hope that they will improve with Game 4 in Milwaukee as well.

Wrong for the Phoenix Suns: Missing Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton only played 24 minutes last night—a playoff low for him. The Bucks’ plan to attack Ayton and get him in foul trouble actually worked during Game 3. Although some calls were questionable, it still resulted in Ayton being on the bench most of the game. This showed how important Ayton is on both sides of the ball for the Suns. Whenever Ayton was not playing, the Bucks looked too comfortable, and found ways to keep extending their lead.

Ayton picked up his third personal foul right before halftime, which meant he had to play cautiously in the second half. Unfortunately, his fourth personal foul was whistled in the third quarter as the Suns were trying to ignite their own run and get themselves back into the game. However, they could never do so, as Ayton only played for about two minutes before being benched again. By the time he re-entered, the deficit was too much.

Wrong for the Phoenix Suns: Booker’s Game 3 Woes

The Suns rely on Devin Booker’s offense…like a lot. Last night, Booker finished with a playoff-low 10 points, on 4-13 shooting from the field. Phoenix is 12-2 whenever Booker drops 20 or more this postseason. This is no coincidence.

Booker was one of the only three players to hit a 3-pointer outside of Jae Crowder’s six made triples. Suns fans have seen Booker struggle in a few games throughout these playoffs, but Game 3 was different. He had a dry spell on offense that he could not seem to get out of—no matter what he tried. This was a huge reason for the loss in Game 3.

However, Booker has show a bit of a pattern for below average performances in Game 3 situations. He shot 6-19, scoring 19 points in Game 3 against the Los Angeles Lakers, and also shot 5-21 in Game 3 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Next. Have the Suns Sold Chris Paul on Re-Signing?. dark

Fortunately, Booker bounced back in each series during the following game. Watch for him to do so again, because the Suns certainly need him to.