Former head coach turned ESPN analyst Mark Jackson recently guested on Club Shay Shay hosted by Shannon Sharpe, and he shared his opinion on what doomed the Phoenix Suns against the Milwaukee Bucks in last year’s NBA Finals.
Mark Jackson on why the Suns lost
As a former player and head coach, Jackson experienced both worlds. His job as an analyst provides Jackson the opportunity to combine his experience with direct access to the modern NBA. In the series between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks, he believes a coaching error led to the Suns’ downfall.
“Well, Monty Williams is an outstanding basketball coach and even more so an even better person who hit all the right buttons and pushed all the right buttons on the way to going to the Finals and I just think that one decision affected the series. The way to beat Giannis and the Bucks, you have to build a wall. He’s that dominant of a player. And DeAndre, as great as a defender he is, is asking too much to defend one if not the best player in basketball. I think it’s a tall task to ask your big man to do it individually.”Mark Jackson, Club Shay Shay
Phoenix actually held a 2-0 advantage in that series. The Suns’ fans have begun celebrating, and talks of sweep started going around. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo had other things in mind, and he began to take over. The Bucks went on to sweep the next four games to win the title.
Comparing Suns to Heat and Raptors
The Suns opted for single coverage to Giannis, and that’s when the favor started to tilt in Milwaukee’s favor. The teams that effectively contained Giannis and the Bucks were the Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat. The two teams employed a suffocating defense that limited Antetokounmpo and his teammates. The Greek Freak would not beat you from outside shooting as he mostly does his damage attacking the basket and scoring in the paint. When the Suns chose to cover Giannis with the sophomore Ayton, they practically gambled away their championship chances.
If the Suns and the Bucks meet again for a finals rematch next season, it would be interesting to see if Monty Williams would still stick to single-man coverage for the reigning Finals MVP. It’s an exciting aspect that fans will have to wait and watch out for.