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Frank Vogel admits the Suns are ‘not a good passing team’

© Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns narrowly escaped Sacramento with a 108-107 victory over the Kings last night, despite a pretty bad offensive outing most of the night.

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Phoenix closed on a 9-2 run to win the game, but if the Suns (48-33) wouldn’t have come back from down as many as 16, all the talk would have been about the team’s 19 turnovers and how stagnant the offense was the majority of the night.

“We’re not a good passing team,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said postgame. “It’s the simplest way to put it. We have to improve our reads, our passing, our deception, our use of our eyes, pass fakes and putting the ball on time, on target. We got to get that corrected if we want to accomplish the goals we want to accomplish.”

(Video via AZ Central’s Duane Rankin)

Win or lose, with only one game left in the season, this is not what you want to hear from a head coach especially on a team with championship aspirations.

The Suns rank 25th in the league with 14.9 turnovers per game, and this is one big reason why they currently sit in a play-in spot as the No. 7 seed in the West.

There has been talk all season about the Suns needing a point guard, but they have fought back saying they have a multiple ball-handler attack.

With the Big 3 having now played 40 games together (25-15 record) and on a current streak of 17 games all healthy, the Suns should have figured a way around this. Kevin Durant is averaging 3.2 turnovers, Devin Booker 2.6 and Bradley Beal 2.5. Jusuf Nurkić, who is also supposed to be one of the main facilitators, is averaging 2.3.

They have now moved Beal to point guard, and it did work for a bit, but Phoenix has now only scored over 110 points one time in its last five games.

Whether this be because of the lesser fouling that’s being called league-wide, the Suns ramping up their defensive effort or whatever else, Phoenix should not consistently have this level of offensive output with the star power it has, especially fully healthy. A true point guard might have helped, but there has to be some accountability among the players as well.

The Suns did end yesterday shooting 52.6% on the night after four straight games of not shooting over 50%. Earlier in the year, you could count on the Suns shooting over 50% almost every night, as they rank No. 5 in the NBA with a team shooting percentage of 49.2% on the season.

Kevin Durant, who will be playing in his 13th playoffs if the Suns make it past or avoid the play-in, discussed what the postseason brings out for teams, which may explain this phenomenon for the Suns these last few games.

“It’s about just digging down deep and understanding that most of these games, every team knows all your sets,” Durant said postgame. “(The opponents) know who you are in and out as a player, so it comes down to who wants it more and who got the most will out there. Can’t rely on sets that coach draw up all the time, we just got to go and play with the best of our ability. I think some of the technical stuff about the game goes out the window when yyou go into the playoffs. It’s all about will and heart and shot-making, to be honest.”

Phoenix did show a lot of will against the Kings defensively, holding Sacramento to 35% shooting in the fourth. This defensive effort has won the Suns a lot of games as of late, so you have to give them credit for that. However, they need to find a way to start coupling that with good offensive performances that they have shown capable of in the past to do some damage in the postseason.

The Suns can avoid the play-in with a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (56-25) in their season finale Sunday and the New Orleans Pelicans (49-32) losing to the Los Angeles Lakers (46-35). The Pelicans are one game ahead of the Suns in the No. 6 seed, but Phoenix owns the tiebreaker over them.

Any other outcome, Phoenix will find itself in the seventh seed.

The No. 7 seed hosts the No. 8 seed to begin the play-in, while the No. 9 seed hosts the No. 10 seed in a separate matchup. The winner of the 7-8 game advances to the playoffs to play the No. 2 seed. The loser plays the winner of the 9-10 game, and the winner of this contest advances to the playoffs to play the No. 1 seed.

A seventh seed has never missed the playoffs in all three seasons since the creation of the play-in tournament (6-for-6).

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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