Win Or Go Home: Message Is Simple For The Suns

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Do or die. Win or go home. This is the last resort. Clutch up or crumble. Uphill battle. Now or never.

However you coin it, the Suns are facing elimination in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

“Throughout this entire playoff run, this is our first elimination game,” Chris Paul said. “It’s for real. It’s no looking back now. We gotta come out, be ready to play and it’s either win or go home.”

After winning game one and two, the Suns are now losers of three straight for only the second time this season. They’ve never lost four straight. Doing so now would mean the end to a wild ride. 

As the series returns to Milwaukee, the Suns of course need to make adjustments. The right ones could result in a Game 7 at home, where anything can happen.

“If you went to the beginning of the season, and said we had a chance to be where we are now, would you take it? Absolutely,” Paul said.

Biggest adjustments

What seems like ages ago, there were people saying that the Bucks play better without Giannis Antetokounmpo. That notion is put to rest in this series. One reason for his success and the Bucks three consecutive wins, is fast break points in transition. They’re averaging 17 per game, which means they’re forcing turnovers and getting the Greek Freak running down court like a freight train.

“It’s certainly a point of focus for us moving forward,” Williams said about slowing down the fast break opportunities. “When we watch the film, a lot of it was just communication. We didn’t communicate well. They forced the issue.

“Good offense beats good defense any day but at some point we gotta make them miss,” Paul said.

The offensive output wasn’t the issue in Game 5 for the Suns who shot 55% from the field and 68% from three. Their runs in the first and fourth quarter were made possible due to extra ball movement, rather than isolation ball from Booker and Chris Paul. 

Booker is scoring with ease, surpassing 40 points in games four and five. The Bucks seem to be letting him get his shots while smothering other scorers like Paul.

“I don’t know their strategy,” Paul said. “We gonna continue to play our game. Book is one of the best to ever do this so we’re going to figure it out.”

In games one and two, the Suns attempted over 40 threes. They haven’t shot that same volume in the three consecutive losses.

“With the capabilities of the shooters we have on this team, we need to generate more threes,” Booker said. “Obviously they’re switching a lot and staying home on shooters. So you know there’s just a way of figuring it out.”

Relying on the culture

On the plane ride to Milwaukee, Williams noticed that his guys aren’t hanging their heads. 

“Our culture allows for that,” Williams said. “From day one when we got there we said we weren’t going to let wins and losses affect our spirit in the gym.”

“It says a lot about this group,” Booker said. “Obviously we were frustrated after the loss. But we’re a type of team that realizes, ‘That’s over’.”

There are many reasons why this team is the NBA Finals. The most prominent according to Williams, Paul, Booker, and others inside that team is the culture they’ve built.

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Game 6 is Tuesday night at 6 p.m PST on ABC. The Suns are also holding a rally inside the Footprint Center for fans to watch the game together. Tickets are $10.

 

 

Jordan Spurgeon is a journalist who is graduating from ASU at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in December 2021. He's previously worked for 97.3 The Fan in San Diego. At Sports360AZ, Jordan enjoys covering multiple sports and telling feature stories that impact people.