PHOENIX – It’s hard to think of anyone who knows the team better than the Phoenix Suns coaching staff and Willie Green, the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans who competed in the Sun’s first round.
With Suns for the first two seasons of Suns head coach Monty Williams, Green was his leading aide, helping to run the defense that Williams’ basic principles became a key feature of the Phoenix when provoking crime.
Green has already shown how his knowledge of the Phoenix system and the trends of its head coach can bring an advantage to pelicans.
Feb. In the Suns defeat in Phoenix on the 26th, Green’s defensive program All-Star guard Devin Booker stumbled upon 25-year-old Chris Paul breaking his right thumb in the second cam.
Despite a 10-for-24 shooting night for the 30 points Booker provided, the most important numbers were his five assists and four turnovers. Michael Bridges (!) Led the team with six assists in the 15-point loss as the Suns scored just 102 points.
At the other end of the field, the Pelicans’ formula of two elite shotmakers with CJ McCullum (32 points) and Brandon Ingram (28) and 16 attacking rebounds (more in Part 2) was adequate.
But three weeks later, of course, the Suns hung on to the Pelicans by 30 points or more in all four quarters, and Booker and Cam Payne’s backcountry tandem with 16 assists and four turnover, a spectacular 131-115 victory. Missed.
Because, keep in mind that it goes both ways. Williams will not be in Green’s training room this season, as Green was to Williams two years ago, but Williams knows what Green will like too.
In that March 15 Suns victory, the Phoenix team had only nine turnovers and 35 assists (!!)
Which end of that spectrum are we going to see more of in this series? Will Green’s aggressive defenses cause problems for the sun or will the phoenix be punished?
This is the story of the two aforementioned games played by these two teams since they traded to McCullum in New Orleans in mid-February.
The biggest difference for Phoenix is the 3-point shooting. 40 out of 12 (30.0%) in defeat and 32 out of 18 (52.9%) in success.
Green, Paul’s former teammate, mentions that he’s like a brother to him, camping his big man again in a drop coverage on the ball screens so the Suns will not let him hit them.
That’s the look of Paul BBQ becoming a chicken for 15 years, and Booker will fry it too. Green does not diminish like that.
The starting point is disconnected and it is below the ball rotations of the sun and from there the plays performed by the players in those positions.
Suns’ bad votes led to missed scenes and turnover.
Rookie Herb Jones is the Pelicans defender who forced those last two sales. If you haven’t heard of him yet, you are going to be. Williams said Friday he was one of the best defenders in the league in the second round out of Alabama.
Green did the initial fitness and training camp with his team, and Jones immediately realized that not only was he going to play right now, he was also going to start. Jones will be used to both Booker and Paul, and how Jones becomes a new player is important to New Orleans.
Good reception for the flawless execution Suns for quickly unraveling the exposed pockets of New Orleans defense.
Booker will be a passer-by in these pits, where he will pick up the pace to hit the defense as he finds this rhythm in the reading and reaction area of the game.
All of these clips, of course, do not feature milk. He is the ultimate chef in the kitchen, and when it comes to cooking counter-defenses and always finding breaks, the league’s “good crime beats good defenses” is the king of the league, far ahead of everyone else on the court.
In the pre-McCullum trade, Paul had 33 joint assists on two trips against New Orleans.
Both were without Deandre Ayton. Paul did a two-man job with Frank Kominski in Phoenix.
Stop the second encounter with the Bismack Byombo in New Orleans.
New Orleans long and slender 21-year-old Jackson Hayes starts with a forward force, and I think Paul and Sons will enjoy targeting him.
This is a small way to present the enormous task of Green’s defensive mind. Can he control or stifle every possession impact of Paul and Booker?
There will be options for greens on a much less talented team with some more depth.
The New Orleans front office did a great job with Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy III and Jones, who are both not afraid of the moment of the game they will be playing.
Larry Nance Jr. scored 14 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. I think in this series he plays a big role as a trap and rescue guy or weak side margin defender.
Further down the bench, we saw senior player Tony Snell being thrown out for four minutes on Friday. Naji Marshall is solid. Devonde ‘Graham is a Flamethrower scorer.
Again, those three newcomers are, well, rookies. Hayes is young too. Marshall is in his second season. Believe it or not, like those five players, this is Ingram and Graham’s playoff debut despite having a healthy tenure in the league already. McCollum and Jonas Valencianas are not as important to their old playoff teams as this New Orleans team.
For me, if the Pelican team had been coached by at least 20 of the other head coaches in the league, I would be comfortable doing a sun sweep here. That’s still my guess but Green could turn it into five or six games instead.
That is the main and unknown variable of this series. Green will use the tricks he has up to his sleeve but is his team ready to get the most out of them?