NBA Finals 2021

NBA Finals 2021: Phoenix Suns reflect on loss to Milwaukee Bucks and what's next for the franchise

The Phoenix Suns came up short of their ultimate goal.

After winning Games 1 and 2 of the 2021 NBA Finals, the Suns lost four straight to the Milwaukee Bucks, bringing an end to one of the most successful seasons in franchise history.

In going 51-21 in the regular season, the Suns finished with the second-best record in the league, as well as the fifth-best winning percentage in franchise history. They returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and returned to the Finals for the first time since 1993.

Following Phoenix's Game 6 loss to Milwaukee, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and head coach Monty Williams reflected on their season and what's next for this team.

Chris Paul

On what it means to finally reach the Finals...

"For me, it just means back to work. Back to work. Nothing more, nothing less. Ain't no moral victories or whatnot. We sort of saw what it takes to get there and hopefully we see what it takes to get past that."

On the team's emotions in the locker room after the loss...

"Just lost."

On how this season's success will impact his free agent decision...

"We just lost a few minutes ago, you know what I mean? Right now we're going to process this and figure this out. I think everything else will take care of itself."

On the season-long growth of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton...

"We grew all season long. Especially starting out the way we did. Nobody probably expected us to be where we are except for us. But it is what it is. Like I said all season long with our team, ain't no moral victories, so."

On what the team can take away from this run...

"I honestly don't know right now. Like I don't know. Everybody in that locker room knows we had enough, but it wasn't enough. So, we got to figure it out. I think for me I just look at myself and figure out how can I get better, what I could have done more and make sure I come back next season ready to do it again."

Devin Booker

On how it feels to have a coach who cares as much as Monty Williams...

"I mean, that's our team. That's been the name of our team this whole season. We're an emotional group, we fight hard, we practice hard, we have a lot of fun together and we trust each other and we love each other and we say it all the time. So, we all had a common goal of bringing a championship back to Phoenix and it's tough to fall short."

On what the locker room was like after the loss...

"Silent. Just a lot of emotion. It's a long season, we went through a lot."

On putting the loss into perspective for Chris Paul...

"I mean, our whole group, again, you know, I got a Chris question before, but all of us wanted it. All of us wanted it. But, I heard what Coach Monty said about people saying you know that solidifies his career and that's complete nonsense to the real hoopers out there. But our group, we supported Chris all the way, he led us this whole entire season and this is our first year together. So just developing a relationship, developing a trust amongst each other throughout the whole season and for it to fall short like this, it's tough on all of us."

On how far he's come and what's next...

"I don't like to talk about myself a lot, but it's far from a spot-up shooter when I came into the league, the reputation that I had. But I just want to play winning basketball at all times. I don't really care what people think of me or what they say about my game, they haven't walked in these shoes and experienced what we just went through.

"So, us as a group we keep this in home and we just, it's a constant pursuit just to better ourselves, better ourselves as basketball players, as men, as teammates, as brothers and that we just continue to get better."

On how he got better as a player in the playoffs...

"Just got to experience it. Experience is the best teacher. So, I think all of our games have gotten better and like I said, we understand how important each possession is now and this feeling, I keep talking about the hurt, you know, you don't want this and this is what you strive for, this is what you go into the summer with and you take it and use it as fuel."

Deandre Ayton

On the team's emotions following the loss...

"The team emotion? Everybody's down. But individually this is just the beginning. As a young player like me and some of the guys on my team, we know what it takes now and that's all I'm going off of, to be honest. I mean, nobody really expected us to even, you know, be here. I know people talk about injuries of other teams and stuff like that, but at the end of the day we playing ball and I'm just really happy how the guys had a wonderful season playing together to get us where we are today. But at the same time we feel it, it leaves a little bad taste in your mouth, but at the end of the day this is just the beginning, man. This is my third year and I'm already feeling it, you know?"

On Chris Paul's impact on the team...

"He brought us all the way up here, you know? We know the type of detail we have to really emphasize to have consistency, to play at the level like this and the type of competitor he is, it was contagious. Knowing your opponent, knowing what the team likes, knowing what teams throw at you, things like that, CP added to everybody's arsenal."

On what it'll take to get over the hump...

"Basically everybody laying it all on the line. I tip my hat off to Milwaukee, because everybody that checked in, even if they didn't check in, they wanted to die on that court. And that's what I felt. That's what it takes. Everybody got to give it their all when it comes to this, especially when it's last game."

On where he improved the most this season...

"My consistency on defense. I think this series I got caught up in some foul trouble, but throughout the whole playoffs and Finals I think I stepped up on my defense where whatever the teams throwing at us with their offense I can adjust. Whether it's smalls or bigs or bigs that can pop or put it on the ground as well, just making sure I'm on the floor long periods of time, especially when teams go small."

Monty Williams

On how long it will take to process the loss...

"I don't know. It's my first time doing it. I've never dealt with this kind of hurt as a head coach. I don't know. I just think that when you go through something like this for the first time, you don't expect to get this far. So, from that standpoint what a huge accomplishment by our players to get to the playoffs for the first time and get all the way to the Finals and have a chance to play for a championship, like that's hard to process. You typically get to the first round and you're done. And you learn and then you try to get to the second round. We got all the way to the Finals. And that hasn't been lost in my thinking.

"There's just a pain that goes with your season being over, but I've never dealt with this and so I'm grateful, like I said, but I know this is going to hurt for a while. But I don't want that to take away from what our guys did this year. They battled all year long and with all the testing and playing every other day to get to this point and have a chance to play for a championship, like it's unreal, you know, that our guys did this. So, from that standpoint I'm grateful and I feel for them, but I also expressed to them, now we know what it takes to get here, it's going to be that much harder to get past this point and the reality is you never know if you're ever going to get back here, that's why you have to take advantage of these opportunities, and they did. We just came up short."

On if there's enough appreciation for what Chris Paul has done in his career...

"I don't think any of those guys who are in that category are appreciated enough. It's laughable when you talk about guys like Chris who have had these unreal careers and yet they get penalized because they haven't won a title. You know, that was my goal was to win it for him and Book, those guys have carried us all year long. And Chris, this is my second time coaching him, I know what he puts into his craft, I know the dedication and so when I hear those sentiments about his career because he hasn't won a championship, it's just silly. It's hard enough to make it to the NBA, let alone be an all-time great, which is what he is."

On the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo...

"I just think their experience in these moments was pretty evident. This is like their fourth or fifth time with this group and that means a lot. Him scoring the way that he did, if you look at the stats, they only had 105 points, that wasn't the deal, he's just a great player. But I just thought because they have been in these moments before, it made up the margins for them, especially in those moments where you need a stop, you need a bucket, there was no panic, there was no lack of poise. And it's part of our journey, we have to go through it and I've been telling our guys that for two years, you have to go through what have you to go through, and there's a deep hurt that you have to feel, and they felt it before and this is our first time. James [Jones] and I were just talking, and he said he's felt it four times in the Finals, you know, that kind of thing.

"So, that's what I saw tonight, not just a guy that was putting up numbers and is a great player but I saw a team that had a lot of experience in playoff situations."

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