Devin Booker has backed up a stellar regular season by looking every bit the part of an NBA Finals MVP. And the rising young Suns star owes much of it to the Chris Paul Finishing School, essentially a doctorate in Advanced Basketball.
Though Booker always has been blessed with offensive gifts and a knack for scoring, he has learned to think about the game at a higher level this season. And making adjustments to opponents’ adjustments — all-important in the playoffs — is something Booker learned from Paul, his 36-year-old surefire Hall of Fame teammate.
“It’s the highest level of basketball, and for me, it’s been a new experience. It’s been a joy to be a part of it and dissecting the game and doctoring the game in that regard,” Booker said. “All great teams make adjustments, and at this level that’s what’s going to happen. So if you think you get an easy look or you think you’re going to get away with something for over a quarter or over a possession, it’s not going to happen. Teams are going to adjust to it, and you have to know how to make an adjustment to their adjustment.
“Watching film with [Paul], he’ll call something out that was so far away from the ball or what happened. He’s going to make sure he gets right back to it. He’s going to rewind it, no matter if it was a minute, two minutes ago in the game, and stress it. Those are the details I’m talking about that we’ve learned can make or break a game for you. And in this time of the year, you need every game you can get.”
Booker will enter Game 3 of the Finals at Fiserv Forum on Sunday averaging 29 points and six assists, a huge reason the Suns have a 2-0 series lead.
“Man, one thing about Book is he stays in kill mode all game long, no matter what’s going on,” Paul said. “If you’re thinking you need to hold the ball with like 40-some seconds left and you might be up four, five, Book going to shoot it. He going to let it ride. That’s just his mindset, which you got to appreciate.”
Scans on Suns forward Torrey Craig’s knee came back clean Friday, but his status is still up in the air.
“He’s still sore. So I can’t make much of a statement on his availability or anything like that,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “We’re going to get through [Saturday]. We’ll have a light practice and put him through some paces. We’ll be able to make a better statement about his availability [Sunday], and then we’ll adjust accordingly.”
If Craig can’t go, Cam Johnson and Abdel Nader could play more. Dario Saric (torn ACL) is out.
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