The Phoenix Suns are in need of a bounce-back against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, and to accomplish that, Devin Booker needs to be better.
Booker scored just 10 points on 3-for-14 shooting and was on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. The 24-year-old guard has rarely had an off night in the postseason, averaging 40.1 minutes, 26.3 points 6.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
Suns head coach Monty Williams said he wants his star guard — and everyone on the roster — to play with more “force.” He elaborated on what exactly that means.
“Both ends, just the relentless sprinting, getting to the corners on offense, defensively getting back and showing a wall,” Williams said. “That was what we thought was inconsistent, and our players thought the same when we watched film yesterday. They were all in agreement. When we do it, we give ourselves a chance to be successful. It’s not the panacea by any stretch of the imagination, but it does help us play the way we want to play.”
Booker scored 58 points combined in the Suns’ first two wins of the series and plans to use a “short memory” to get over the hurdle.
“Been there before. So just understanding that, understanding the game, understanding situations that you’ve been through and just trusting the work that you’ve put in, as simple as that,” Booker said. “But my main objective out there is to win the basketball game.”
Bucks Expect Booker to Come Back Strong
The Bucks are favorites for Game 4 and would even up the series at 2-2 with a win. However, nobody expects Booker to make it easy.
“He gets pretty scary after [a bad game],” Ayton said. “Just knowing his mentality and knowing that games like that don’t really slow him down. We know it was just one of those games, but I know he’ll step up and as a team we’ll step up as well.”
The Bucks expect the same from the All-Star guard.
“He’s a great player, but he’s human also. But I think we’re expecting we’re going to have to be even better on him,” Budenholzer told reporters in his postgame press conference. “We just got to be prepared for a really good Devin Booker going into Game 4.”
Chris Paul Backs Booker After Rough Night
While Booker’s poor night didn’t help the Suns’ cause, veteran guard Chris Paul pointed out that the whole team needs to be better to win because basketball isn’t an individual sport.
“This ain’t golf. It’s not tennis. You know what I mean? We’re all in this together,” Paul said. “So everybody on our team took the loss hard, as we should. We never go into a game expecting to lose. If you showed me somebody who expects to lose, I’ll show you a loser. So everybody on our team felt a way. We felt like we could be better.”
The Suns are just two wins away from the franchise’s first NBA title and Booker is embracing the pressure that comes with that.
“Just understanding the task at hand and simply you just have to be better if you want to win the game,” Booker said. “That’s obviously something I want and something this whole team and coaching staff and training staff wants and this whole city wants.
“So I would say it’s a good pressure. These are the moments that you prepare for and that you train so hard for, what we’re in right now. So you have to be excited about it.”