The Phoenix Suns are now 1-0 after their win over the Golden State Warriors on opening night. Phoenix defeated Golden State, 108-104, behind a great performance from Devin Booker. Booker finished the game with 32 points, eight assists, and six rebounds. He was also very efficient, shooting 13/21 from the floor and 3/8 from three point range. What are the biggest takeaways from this game?
Devin Booker Is The Play-Maker the Suns Need
Going into this season one of the biggest questions about the Suns was how would the lack of a “true” point guard affect the offense? That question was answered in game one by Devin Booker. Booker had eight assists and six turnovers. Now of course the Suns want those turnovers to go down as the season goes along but Booker made the right decisions when it mattered most.
Devin Booker clutch time masterclass
3 clutch assists to seal the game. Point Book is here pic.twitter.com/inAPAAdgiq
— Thomas 🏀 (@ThomasBuckets78) October 25, 2023
In the closing moments of the game Booker had three straight assists that closed out the game for Phoenix. The first assist was a great read as Booker and Jusuf Nurkic ran a pick and roll. Chris Paul was guarding Josh Okogie and came down into the paint to help on the Nurkic role. Booker recognized that Okogie was open and waited for the perfect moment to pass him the ball.
This also took a lot of trust. Okogie has struggled with his three point shot in the past and hadn’t shot any threes up to that point in the game. Booker didn’t hesitate and trusted Okogie to make this clutch shot.
On the second assist in this sequence Booker and Nurkic ran another pick and roll. Nurkic set the pick high up and rolled forcing Steph Curry to switch on to Booker. Kevon Looney had to move down to make sure Nurkic didn’t get a free layup. This left Eric Gordon open for split second. Gordon did not have a good shooting game, he went 4/16 from the floor and 2/9 from three. Again Booker trusted Gordon to come through in that moment and he did.
On the third assist in the sequence Booker and Nurkic go back to their pick and roll game. This time Nurkic is forced to set two picks. On the second pick he rolls to the basket and Booker hits him in stride on his way to the basket. Nurkic’s layup sealed the game for Phoenix.
Booker really showed that he is not only capable of being a “true” point guard in these moments but he also showed incredible trust in his teammates. The decision making and ability to make an accurate pass so the shooter can just rise up to shoot are the skills the Suns need from their primary play-maker. Booker has all the tools to be that primary play-maker for a championship team.
Frank Vogel’s Impact Is Already Showing
Frank Vogel is known as a defensive minded head coach. Another one of those big questions about the Suns coming into this season was would they be good on defense? The Suns were great on the defensive end of the floor on opening night. The Warriors who are a great offensive team with some of the greatest offensive players of all-time were shut down by the Suns.
Golden State shot 35.6% from the floor and 23.3% from three point range. To put that in perspective the Warriors shot 47% from the floor and 38% from three point range last season.
Steph Curry is widely recognized as the greatest shooter of all-time. He shot 4/14 from three in this game. Klay Thompson is also known as an all-time great shooter. Thompson shot 6/18 from the floor and 3/11 from three. Chris Paul is one of the most efficient point guards to ever step on a basketball court. He went 4/15 from the floor and 0/6 from three point range.
Now of course some of that bad shooting was bad luck. A few of those shots looked good but rimmed out. That is a part of basketball but the Warriors had a minimum amount of open shots because of the effort on the defensive end by the Suns.
This was game one of 82 so of course there will be ups and downs throughout the year but the play-making of Devin Booker and team defense showed by the Suns are amazing positives to start the season. Will those positives show up in game two against the Los Angeles Lakers? We will see on October 26th.