Suns Are Markedly Better Than in the Playoffs

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During the recent win streak, including the game with the Bucks (yes, Lopez was absent), the Suns look like a supercharged version of last year's playoff team. This is even true when, as in several of the last few games, Booker has not particularly been hitting his outside shot. Indeed, the Suns have been relatively cold from 3-point land but it doesn't matter.
*First, the Terrific Trio of Ayton, McGee, and Biyambo have pummeled opponents. There was a time when he was out that I thought we could actually live without Ayton and just go with McGee and Biyambo, but since his return, Ayton is a different player. He has stopped the weak layups and dunks; he is using his fouls on defense. With this group, folks, we have 18 fouls to give on someone like the Greek. Jordan Rules. Use every one. Again, not to focus on the Bucks cuz they well may not make it out of the East this year, but even with Embiid or Jocic, a three-center rotation is going to be a powerful defensive weapon. And, collectively they have been over 30 and 15 pts/reb since Ayton's return.
*Overall the D is better. Both Ellis and Biyambo are much better shot-blockers/middle-cloggers than Sarcic/Kaminsky. Bridges is now grading as the second best defender in the league behind the Greek. Craig's return bolsters the D further. This is a MUCH improved defensive team from last year.
*Bridges emergence as a legit #3 player. He is coming into that James Worthy position. He is driving far more, relying less on the 3-point shot.
*Cam Johnson continues to mature in his overall game, and like Bridges is not just settling for the 3s.
*All this has been done with Payne out. But in his short time, Peyton has improved dramatically. He is confident and knows he won't get yanked for missing a couple of shots.

Weaknesses? Sure. McGee and Biyambo need to improve their FT shooting for the endgame. Ditto Peyton. If you get the full second- to third- unit on the floor, the quality drops off a lot---but merely re-installing Paul or Booker changes that dynamic.
*Crowder's 3-point shot has all but disappeared. The good news? He's re-committed himself to rebounding.

In short, looking as the trading deadline came up, there wasn't a single major move I would have made, and acquiring Craig was pretty much the icing on the cake. I don't see this team folding in four straight games as last year's team did.
 

JCSunsfan

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"Suns were pushovers...mumble mumble"

~Shaq
I do not know how that guy has his job. I miss half of what he says because he mumbles.

This team is a machine. I have no concerns in a close game in the fourth quarter. I have absolute confidence that this team will execute down the stretch. They play with enthusiasm but they do not run on emotion. Even when their offense faltering they can and will play suffocating D to keep close. When one player, even a star player, is off, the other players pick up the slack.

Their only weakness is the drop-off when Chris Paul goes out of the lineup. With a healthy CamPayne, there is a drop-off but it is not significant. Cam's speed adds a different kind of dimension that defenses struggle with, especially when he is fresh and they are winded. I am hoping Aaron Holiday makes a difference, but I am not sure. At least with Javon Carter, you knew he would play disruptive defense for stretches. Holiday seems to be a disruptive defender--not on the level of Carter, but still useful.

Anyway. Better than last year in the playoffs? Absolutely. Simply adding JaVale and Biz behind DA is huge. Cam Johnson is better. Book has improved his defense and his efficiency. They are playing as a team better now.
 
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Suns_fan69

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One other factor is right now Monty is still rolling out lineups without CP3 and Book. I suspect once playoffs roll around one of the 2 is always going to see the court. That will help manage the drop off when CP3 is off.
 

Dr. Jones

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I am still deathly afraid of the Nets (KD), Warriors (Steph & Draymond) and Bucks (Giannis). Used to feel the same way about the Lakers (AD). We have nothing to guard against the superstar blowing up on us. We still don't have that one true supernova like they do. We aren't the Ben Wallace Pistons, but we aren't a superteam either.

The Warriors, Nets, Sixers, and Bucks can all beat us if we are off just a bit let alone as injured as we were from the WCF's to the finals.
 

Chaplin

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I am still deathly afraid of the Nets (KD), Warriors (Steph & Draymond) and Bucks (Giannis). Used to feel the same way about the Lakers (AD). We have nothing to guard against the superstar blowing up on us. We still don't have that one true supernova like they do. We aren't the Ben Wallace Pistons, but we aren't a superteam either.

The Warriors, Nets, Sixers, and Bucks can all beat us if we are off just a bit let alone as injured as we were from the WCF's to the finals.
Sure, but ask yourself, can any of those teams beat us 4 out of 7 times? I'm not sure any of them can.
 

GatorAZ

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Sure, but ask yourself, can any of those teams beat us 4 out of 7 times? I'm not sure any of them can.

Not unless they build some crazy chemistry over the next few months. Some major pieces for the Sixers/Nets have yet to play…. Whoever wins the East is going to have gone thru the gauntlet.
 

Chaplin

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Not unless they build some crazy chemistry over the next few months. Some major pieces for the Sixers/Nets have yet to play…. Whoever wins the East is going to have gone thru the gauntlet.
And one or two of the East's title favorites will definitely lose in the first round.
 

AzStevenCal

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Not unless they build some crazy chemistry over the next few months. Some major pieces for the Sixers/Nets have yet to play…. Whoever wins the East is going to have gone thru the gauntlet.
I think Silver wants Brooklyn in the finals and his rant about NYC mask mandates might well put them there.
 

Proximo

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I am still deathly afraid of the Nets (KD), Warriors (Steph & Draymond) and Bucks (Giannis). Used to feel the same way about the Lakers (AD). We have nothing to guard against the superstar blowing up on us. We still don't have that one true supernova like they do. We aren't the Ben Wallace Pistons, but we aren't a superteam either.

The Warriors, Nets, Sixers, and Bucks can all beat us if we are off just a bit let alone as injured as we were from the WCF's to the finals.
I'm really only scared of the Warriors and Heat.

Lots of teams can beat us if they are hot from 3, but it is unlikely they can do it 4 out of 7 games.
 

CardsSunsDbacks

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I am still deathly afraid of the Nets (KD), Warriors (Steph & Draymond) and Bucks (Giannis). Used to feel the same way about the Lakers (AD). We have nothing to guard against the superstar blowing up on us. We still don't have that one true supernova like they do. We aren't the Ben Wallace Pistons, but we aren't a superteam either.

The Warriors, Nets, Sixers, and Bucks can all beat us if we are off just a bit let alone as injured as we were from the WCF's to the finals.
If we are talking about scoring than we absolutely have that guy in Booker. He had quite a few games in that playoff run where he went off. That includes a 40 point triple double against the Clips.
 

Proximo

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If we are talking about scoring than we absolutely have that guy in Booker. He had quite a few games in that playoff run where he went off. That includes a 40 point triple double against the Clips.
And he also had several where he was terrible.

He needs to be more consistent, but the good thing is Mikal, Cam, and DA can do a better job of making up if he has a bad day.
 

SirStefan32

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Sure, but ask yourself, can any of those teams beat us 4 out of 7 times? I'm not sure any of them can.

That is such a good point. I really didn't about it in terms of "4 out of 7". I just don't see how anyone can actually beat this team four times in seven games.
You gotta think that a superstar (Giannis, KD, Steph, etc) will win one game by themselves, any team is gonna get hot from three once, maybe their coach can outcoach Monty one game, but I just don't see how anyone can beat them four times in seven games. This team is just too deep and had so many different weapons that I don't see how you beat them four times.
 

CardsSunsDbacks

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And he also had several where he was terrible.

He needs to be more consistent, but the good thing is Mikal, Cam, and DA can do a better job of making up if he has a bad day.
The argument was that we don't have a guy that can go "nuclear", but Booker can absolutely be that guy. May not do it every night, but neither do the guys that were listed.
 

cheesebeef

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If we are talking about scoring than we absolutely have that guy in Booker. He had quite a few games in that playoff run where he went off. That includes a 40 point triple double against the Clips.
Booker ain’t at the level of a Giannis/KD/Steph scoring/creating for others-wise.

You just posted one game where he went nuclear. Those guys can go nuclear for entire series. Book hasn’t reached that level yet.
 

CardsSunsDbacks

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Booker ain’t at the level of a Giannis/KD/Steph scoring/creating for others-wise.

You just posted one game where he went nuclear. Those guys can go nuclear for entire series. Book hasn’t reached that level yet.
I posted one game, but I think we both know that it happened more than once in those playoffs.

For comparison sake Booker played in 22 games in those playoffs and he had 4 40+ point games and 10 30+ point games. Steph Curry in the 2015 playoffs played in 21 games and had 40+ in 2 games and 30+ in 9 games. Steph also had 4 games in the 2016 finals where scored less than 20 points. This is with me digging for like 5 minutes.

Sure it would have been great if he had fewer poor games, but guys that rely on a lot of the points from away from the basket are going to have some bad games. In terms of scoring he is capable of going nuclear as well as just about anyone, but obviously is not this team's primary ballhandler so he isn't necessarily going to rack up a ton of assists.
 

cheesebeef

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I posted one game, but I think we both know that it happened more than once in those playoffs.

For comparison sake Booker played in 22 games in those playoffs and he had 4 40+ point games and 10 30+ point games. Steph Curry in the 2015 playoffs played in 21 games and had 40+ in 2 games and 30+ in 9 games. Steph also had 4 games in the 2016 finals where scored less than 20 points. This is with me digging for like 5 minutes.

Sure it would have been great if he had fewer poor games, but guys that rely on a lot of the points from away from the basket are going to have some bad games. In terms of scoring he is capable of going nuclear as well as just about anyone, but obviously is not this team's primary ballhandler so he isn't necessarily going to rack up a ton of assists.
I'm sorry, but he's just not at the level of a Durant/Giannis/Steph as far as scorer/creator. That's a silly argument to try and make.
 

cheesebeef

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I agree but it must be stressed that Book isn’t that far away from them.
I think he is. that's not a knock on Book either. He's a perennial All-Star level player at this point. But those are legends of the game. I don't think he's close to legend-material yet. But, I used to think that wasn't possible at all for him. Now, I think he can still go up a level to possibly be there one day. But right now, he ain't there.

again, that's more of a compliment to those Giannis/Durant/Steph and not a knock on Book.
 

Chaplin

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I think he is. that's not a knock on Book either. He's a perennial All-Star level player at this point. But those are legends of the game. I don't think he's close to legend-material yet.
Curious, how far away is he, and what does he need to do to reach that level?
 

cheesebeef

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Curious, how far away is he, and what does he need to do to reach that level?
I think his handles have to get better to be able to either shake anyone off the dribble and attack the basket, or create more space on his jumper. He's never going to be the freak athlete that Giannis/KD is and he's not a natural wizard with the dribble and passing that Steph was seemingly born with.

Now, he's gotten MUCH better as a passer and he's very good being able to create more space, but there's a reason Book has to settle for those long threes that drive us nuts at the end of quarters/halves. He doesn't have blow by speed and his handles aren't good enough to shake people to get by them on an I-can-really-do-this- any-time-I-want-basis.

I also think Steph is a little overrated and hasn't always been the cream rising to the top type player in the playoffs. But he has had those moments and entire seasons where he's just been completely unconscious.
 

Ouchie-Z-Clown

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I think he is. that's not a knock on Book either. He's a perennial All-Star level player at this point. But those are legends of the game. I don't think he's close to legend-material yet. But, I used to think that wasn't possible at all for him. Now, I think he can still go up a level to possibly be there one day. But right now, he ain't there.

again, that's more of a compliment to those Giannis/Durant/Steph and not a knock on Book.
Agree (shocking I know). I think he gets there when we see the refs giving him the superstar calls those guys get. He’s not there.
 

Dr. Jones

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Sure, but ask yourself, can any of those teams beat us 4 out of 7 times? I'm not sure any of them can.
I thought the exact same thing last year. Then the Bucks swept us out.
Not unless they build some crazy chemistry over the next few months. Some major pieces for the Sixers/Nets have yet to play…. Whoever wins the East is going to have gone thru the gauntlet.
Again..... Giannis had 40 and 50 in two of the three Bucks home games. Middleton went for 40 in the other.
If we are talking about scoring than we absolutely have that guy in Booker. He had quite a few games in that playoff run where he went off. That includes a 40 point triple double against the Clips.
Well...... He's a stud for sure. But he hasn't shown the gear I speak of. Is he a top 12 player in the league? yes. But the delta between Steph, Giannis, KD, Lebron, healthy AD, and the rest of the league is much wider when it comes to this inner circle HOF'er gear IMO.
That is such a good point. I really didn't about it in terms of "4 out of 7". I just don't see how anyone can actually beat this team four times in seven games.
You gotta think that a superstar (Giannis, KD, Steph, etc) will win one game by themselves, any team is gonna get hot from three once, maybe their coach can outcoach Monty one game, but I just don't see how anyone can beat them four times in seven games. This team is just too deep and had so many different weapons that I don't see how you beat them four times.
Again, We were swept out of the finals last year.

Everything needs to go perfect health wise. Especially with Booker & Paul to be the well oiled super deep super squad.
 

Dr. Jones

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I think he is. that's not a knock on Book either. He's a perennial All-Star level player at this point. But those are legends of the game. I don't think he's close to legend-material yet. But, I used to think that wasn't possible at all for him. Now, I think he can still go up a level to possibly be there one day. But right now, he ain't there.

again, that's more of a compliment to those Giannis/Durant/Steph and not a knock on Book.
Can I say Borg? haha
 
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