Three games in four days isn't the ideal way to open a regular season, especially coming off an NBA Finals that ended in July.
"Thank you NBA for three in four right out the gate," Suns coach Monty Williams said. "I talked to another buddy of mine who had the same thing. We both were whining like old men, like, holy smokes."
That "buddy" was Willie Green, Williams' former lead assistant, who opened his first season as an NBA head coach with three games in four days for New Orleans.
Viewing his team's situation in totality, Williams can live with that "three in four" even though the Suns are 1-2 going into Wednesday's matchup against the Sacramento Kings to begin a five-game homestand.
"It's only three games," Suns center Deandre Ayton said. "I don't think nobody should be overreacting over three games. We've got 82 now."
"It's only three games. I don't think nobody should be overreacting over three games. We've got 82 now."
Deandre Ayton on #Suns 1-2 start.
Last season, Phoenix started 8-8, but finished with 2nd best record in NBA, reached finals.
"We know we're going to bounce back." pic.twitter.com/RzuLbJgcfj— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) October 26, 2021
The Suns and Pelicans (1-3) are two of seven teams to open with three games in four days with the Bulls (4-0), Cavaliers (2-2), Pacers (1-3), Raptors (1-3) and Spurs (1-2) being the other five.
"I think that's going to help us going forward as far as getting in NBA shape," Williams said.
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What separates the Suns from those remaining seven teams is they're the only ones who made the playoffs last season. The Pacers and Spurs did reach the play-in tournament, but fell short of advancing to the 16-team postseason.
Phoenix opened this early stretch with a home loss to Denver before heading on the road for a back-to-back that began Friday in Los Angeles.
The Suns topped the Lakers, 115-105, after leading by as many as 32 points, but lost the next night to the Trail Blazers, 134-105, as they trailed by as much as 37.
"I just felt like we wasn't connected as a unit, as a team from the start of the game," Suns forward Jae Crowder said. "I just felt like our defense was loose. Those guys felt comfortable in making 20-plus 3s."
The Blazers shot 21-of-50 from deep.
"They didn't feel us from the start of the game," Crowder continued. "That just can't happen."
Two-time All-Star Devin Booker said after Saturday's loss the Suns aren't "on a string completely right now," defensively, but they have a choice on how to respond to that.
"You can blame the first back-to-back of the season or you can go and make the corrections that we need to make," he said.
After a day off, the Suns began to address those mistakes during a rare two-hour practice that consisted of film work, drills, 5-on-5 and plenty of physicality.
"We just chose the option to get back in the lab," Ayton said. "First thing we did, first practice, was competing and going at each other."
Williams pointed to conditioning being something that will help the Suns not only on defense, but overall.
"When we play with pace or calling out our reds and our switches on defense because we're in great conditioning, it looks really good," Williams said. "When we're in this mode of like getting to that level of basketball, it's a bit harder."
The Suns now have the luxury of being in Phoenix for a two-week stretch before heading to Sacramento for a Nov. 8 game. They'll then play Portland at home Nov. 10 before beginning a three-game road trip Nov. 12 against Memphis.
"I think this is a good time for us to be at home and work on who we are and use this time to get in great shape," Williams said.
However, they will be without Cameron Payne, who missed the Portland game with a right hamstring strain, remains out and will be re-evaluated in a week. Payne has been the primary backup at point guard for Chris Paul.
"I talked to him today and he's already like looking at the days when he can get back," Williams said of Payne. "Those are the guys we like having in our gym, guys who like to play."
Elfrid Payton posted 14 points, six assists and three turnovers in 25 minutes Saturday. A starter for the New York Knicks last season, Payton is expected to see significant action while Payne is out.
"I think he's just going to get more comfortable with the group," Williams said. "Coming off of a back-to-back and realizing that the next day, you're going to play heavy minutes, it can throw your rhythm off. And I thought he played solid based on what happened in that game, but I think he's going to get more comfortable with that group and the way we stagger the rotations."
Suns add Ish Wainright on a two-way deal
Those were the opening words from Ish Wainright in his first media interview in Phoenix since joining the Suns last week on a two-way deal.
"Blessed to be a part of a championship team," said Wainright, who the Raptors waived this month. "A lot of vets out here to learn from including the front office and a great coach in Coach Williams. I'm just happy, blessed to be here. Ready to learn, ready to play, ready to win and ready to help out any way possible."
The 6-5, 235-pound rookie forward averaged 4.3 points in three preseason games for the Raptors. Having played overseas the previous three seasons, Wainright went undrafted in 2017 out of Baylor where he also played football.
From Kansas City, Missouri, Wainright, 27, signed with the Buffalo Bills after going undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft, but has now found his way to the NBA.
"I feel like I'm an NBA player," Wainright said.
The Suns have now filled their two two-way spots with Chandler Hutchison and Wainright. In joining Phoenix, Wainright is seeing a familiar face in Payne as he said the two played against each other in AAU.
Wainright also faced Frank Kaminsky in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
"I lost against him at Baylor in the Sweet 16, they blew us out by about 20," Wainright said.
Wisconsin won, 69-52, over the Bears.
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Source : https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2021/10/26/suns-ready-bounce-back-after-ugly-loss-portland-face-kings-next/8552581002/2067