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2022 Playoffs Without Booker: The Sun's Depth and Rigid Dilemma

2022 Playoffs Without Booker: The Sun’s Depth and Rigid Dilemma

In Game 4 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, the Pelicans played a good game at home, but when the Pelicans kept making moves, the dilemma of the Suns without Devin Booker was very obvious, and in the first round, the Suns had to face this problem, and regain your strengths.

In the last 6 minutes and 23 seconds of the fourth quarter, Jae Crowder’s out-of-bounds serve was stolen by the Pelicans Herbert Jones. After the layup, it was Chris Paul’s vicious foul, which widened the lead to 14 points, and the Pelicans opened the whole game. , Even the biggest lead in the entire series, the follow-up lead, and the 15-point difference to the final 118:103 victory, just add to the record.

The Pelicans chased a 2:2 tie, started from 1 win and 12 losses at the beginning of the season, and finally rushed into the playoffs. After winning two consecutive wins, they became the eighth seed. In the first round, they met the league’s leading Suns. Either Scott Foster is magical for CP3, but what hurts the Suns more is Devin Booker, who hit 31 points in the first half, and has to rest for two to three weeks.

In the third game, although the Suns won the away game and regained the home field advantage under the excellent performance of CP3 and Deandre Ayton, it is not difficult to see that they have lost the margin of the whole season during the game. Even as the leader of the league, they still have to fight hard. On the other hand, the Pelicans launched a fierce attack at the beginning of the game and won the second half when the Raiders jumped out. Judging from the results of the game, the Pelicans must be affirmed. In fact, C.J. McCollum’s shooting rate was not good in the whole game, but Brandon Ingram took out the Game 2’s hot hand. Although Jonas Valanciunas didn’t grab the offensive rebounds like Game 1, he still attacked the penalty area with all his strength. In addition, Jose Alvarado pestered CP3 in the second half and Jones made many contributions on the defensive end. These are the reasons for the Pelicans’ victory. All of the above All are worth remembering.

The referee of the fourth game was Marc Davis, one of the league’s criticized three phantom gods. Several times in favor of the Pelicans and the 42:15 free throw gap naturally affected the game. If the league wanted to I have nothing to say about this operation, but there are still parts worth discussing in the game, one of which is of course to affirm the efforts of the Pelicans youngsters as above, but for the Suns, this battle once again shows how important Booker is. , and the difference between the floor and ceiling of the Suns’ current lineup after several years of trading.

Take the Bucks in the Eastern District as an example. They also faced the trouble of retiring their main player Khris Middleton in the second game. Middleton will also be absent for at least two to three weeks. Put Bobby Portis in the starting lineup, let Brook Lopez, Portis and Giannis Antetokounmpo smash the Bulls’ already weak paint, and even if the Bucks are down to eight rotations without Middleton, they can still choose the three-tower formation, the original The double-length formation, the small-ball formation with Antetokounmpo in the center, etc. Of course, this is related to the presence of an out-of-spec monster like Antetokounmpo, but it still shows the Bucks’ flexibility in the lineup.

Even if you only look at the Pelicans who are standing on the opposite side, you can see how much the Pelicans’ lineup has changed under the control of David Griffin. For example, they start the two towers of Valanciunas and Jaxson Hayes, and Ingram and Jones have one offense and one defense. The flank, coupled with the tall formation with CJM as the main control, when Hayes is replaced, Larry Nance Jr. who is shorter in stature and has a poor defense but a better attack can fill in, or Trey Murphy III can play on the three flanks. With CJM back at shooting guard, Devonte’ Graham on the perimeter, or Jose Alvarado on defense and raiding at point guard, the lineup does have a variety of possibilities.

After the Suns lost Booker, the lineup was much more rigid. The basic formation was a center Ayton, a main control CP3, and three flankers such a 1-3-1 formation. JaVale McGee was Ayton’s substitute. Occasionally Cameron Payne’s paired dual control, but neither Cam Johnson nor Torrey Craig can provide contributions that are too different from Mikal Brodges and Crowder. Of course, it can be seen from the regular season that after last season’s cooperation, this system has been run in very smoothly and is suitable for McGee, who works with CP3, has no problem adapting as a new teammate, but when he lacks Booker and the most creative role of the team, his power is greatly reduced.

So, when the Pelicans feel the paint is being scored by Ayton and McGee, they can put Valanciunas, Hayes, Nance Jr. on the floor, and when the Pelicans feel the Suns start shooting outside, Ingram, Jones, Murphy will pull Open the defensive net, or the more active Nance Jr. will play. When the Pelicans find out that the Suns are going to play the main game for CP3, in addition to the original set of Jones as the main guard, Alvarado will play and start to disrupt the game, but the Suns can at most feel Bridges. Shooting for Johnson when it’s bad, Craig when Crowder doesn’t make a shot, Payne when CP3 needs a break, and Shamet, who got minutes due to Booker’s absence in Monty Williams’ schedule, originally didn’t have much skills other than shooting, this series So far the game has gone 2-for-10 from beyond the arc, and the combined score is barely more than half of what Booker scored in the first half of Game 2, which doesn’t help the team in any way.

And this is related to the trading in the past few years, especially the trading mode after James Jones took over as the general manager in the past few years, abandoning the ceiling pursued by the sun in the past and seeking a higher floor. This policy cannot be wrong, but the execution aspect does make The Suns lost a lot of assets, especially the draft picks representing the future. The Suns either jumped to select other high-floor players, or sold them cheaply as scallions. Regardless of how valuable the Suns’ draft picks are, or how many they can pick up Better player, but it’s a fact that the Suns didn’t play to their full potential.

Of course, it’s not easy to trade. Compared with the dark period when the Suns missed the playoffs for ten consecutive years, Jones at least helped the Suns return to the playoffs. This season’s regular season won the leader, but the Sun under Jones’ trader does have the problem that the ceiling is not high enough and the lineup change is not flexible, but from the various operations before and during the season, I don’t think Jones really has this. idea.

For example, when Jones has a draft right, he will jump to select Cam Johnson and Jalen Smith with higher completion degrees, but not Tyrese Haliburton. For example, when there is room for manoeuvre outside the season, he will take the middle class clause to fill McGee first, and take First-round picks for Shamet, of course, there is a lot of room for discussion, such as whether you have the courage to tear down the existing green leaves for a higher ceiling, or when the Pelicans rumored that they might trade Ingram before the season, the Suns Whether to actually send Bridges or Johnson for a gamble, whether to trade in midseason for a real offensive frontcourt player, etc. The Suns clearly lack a frontcourt player who can handle the ball and score, whether it’s the deluxe version of Ingram mentioned above, or It’s cheap Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay, and even Thaddeus Young, who often gets involved with the Suns in midseason trades. We can tell ourselves that Jones has at least maintained the Suns’ regular-season roster, but we also It must be seen that the sun did not help the team significantly strengthen the team in various pre-season and mid-season trading opportunities.

The Suns’ system is of course strong, and a system that is not strong enough will never be able to win 64 games in the regular season, but the Suns do not have many surprises, not even a player like Alvarado who can occasionally chaos and change the atmosphere. Existing, and Shamet, Payne, etc., as long as they can’t make outside shots, they almost lose their influence. This series of Shamet and today’s Payne have shocking dunks, but these surprises are not enough to make up for their inability to provide more. Firepower, or a flaw that will drop points on defense.

Returning to the fourth game itself, the Pelicans played a dazzling game. Judging from the low-ranked seed against the high-ranked strong team, they did their part, made unexpected surprises, and even disturbed the game. The licorice figures who came to Guaqi can all exert influence. Even without such a huge free throw gap, the Pelicans can be very competitive in this game, and after their mid-season trade, they have gone all out to the playoffs and the playoffs. After passing two levels in a row, and then facing the Suns in the first round, we must affirm the efforts of the entire team and the integration of head coach Willie Green.

But for the Suns, this just shortened the series to two wins of three games, and at the same time held home field advantage. Now what they have to look forward to is that the first four games of the series are not running smoothly, but the whole season has long been the cost of winning. The system must be restarted, the huge battleship will restart, and then the key to the victory will be handed over to the captain to command. And how to maintain the physique of the strong team, or to move towards the ceiling of the championship, is a matter of summer vacation.

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