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2024 NBA Playoffs: Suns’ Devin Booker remains optimistic despite struggles vs Timberwolves

2024 NBA Playoffs: Suns’ Devin Booker remains optimistic despite struggles vs Timberwolves

As the Phoenix Suns fell into a 0-2 hole against the Minnesota Timberwolves, star guard Devin Booker remains steadfast as their team faces an uphill climb from here on out.

Booker only scored 20 points on 6-13 shooting and ended up fouling out of the game as the Wolves put up the finishing touches of their 105-93 Game 2 win.

The 6-foot-6 guard has struggled over his last four meetings with the Wolves dating back to the regular season and these past two playoff games, scoring just 13, 23, 18, and 20. He never scored more than 23, and just shot only 35 percent from the floor and 20-57 overall. 

"It's obviously something I need to be better with," Booker said as he finished Game 2 with six turnovers and fouled out with 20 points. 

The Suns, despite some good stretches here and there, kind of have been caught up with the Timberwolves’ runs in the third quarter of both games, getting buried amidst the adversity of playing on the road.

“(This) is when you have to be as close as ever,” Booker said. “In a hostile environment. On the road. Just talk your way through it. Hold each other accountable. Have honest conversations and understand it’s for the best of the team.”

Among the issues the Suns faced in both games, apart from the usual takes from naysayers about the need to have a real point guard around their big three – are them only taking 18 three-point shot attempts all game. In the year 2024, that just cannot happen. 

Teams have to keep the defenses honest, and against this stifling Wolves defense which can adapt to any situation, being predictable with most of their shots taken in the midrange and inside the paint is giving Minnesota the unlikely advantage of knowing what’s coming and being able to prepare for it defensively. The Suns have to incorporate additional offensive sets, particularly to take more threes, stretch out the defense, and in turn open up the paint more and give space for their three creators to make plays.

"My frustration is just within the team. We need to execute. We play well when we're playing and then we need to stick together once things turn bad. We've done that throughout the season. Something that has to be corrected."

It does not help with the NBA’s best three-point shooter Grayson Allen being out with an ankle injury, but that does make the Suns all the more to have to shoot those threes to compensate for Allen’s production. For a player of Booker’s caliber – All-Star, All-NBA, a top 10 scorer in the league, having that kind of performance is just unacceptable. The Suns won’t be able to win with that kind of production from him, and he needs to step up and provide more.

“We’re all trying to fight out there, and so far in this series, once it’s turned to s—, we’ve kind of separated instead of being together,’’ Booker said. “And that’s everybody, top to bottom. It’s something we got to figure out.”

A huge chunk of the credit should be given to the Timberwolves’ defense as well, which is as good as anybody has seen in 20 years. Tenacious, swarming – it just comes right at you all at once. Booker alongside his co-stars Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal have struggled against it for two games but now they have to make the adjustments as the series shifts to Phoenix.

Minnesota took care of their home court. Now it’s up to Booker and the Suns to do the same in theirs.

“Don’t count us out. It’s a series for a reason.”



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