Western Notes: Williams, Suns, Blazers, Gilgeous-Alexander

The Suns will look to regroup in Game 6 after losing three straight contests to the Bucks, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com writes. Phoenix now trails 3-2 in the series entering Tuesday’s pivotal game.

“We got to win one game to put them back on the plane,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “That’s it. And you have to have that determination that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to put them back on the plane.”

Game 6 of the Finals will take place in Milwaukee, meaning a Suns win would allow the team to play Game 7 at home. The club won its first two contests in its own arena before dropping Saturday’s game 123-119.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy,” Chris Paul said. “We didn’t expect it to be. It’s hard. Coach said it all year long: Everything we want is on the other side of hard, and it don’t get no harder than this.

“So, we got to regroup, learn from this game. But it’s over. We got to get ready for Game 6.”

There’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • The Suns have been hampered by defensive issues and ball protection, according to The Arizona Republic. Phoenix struggled in non-Deandre Ayton minutes during Game 5, playing Torrey Craig, Jae Crowder and Cameron Johnson when Ayton sat on the bench. The team mostly played Dario Saric in those minutes during the regular season, but Saric suffered a torn ACL in the first quarter of Game 1.
  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated examines the current situation between Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers. To this point, Lillard has publicly denied the notion that he plans to request a trade, but he’s also explained the importance of building a contender around him this summer. The Blazers were eliminated by the short-handed Nuggets during the first round of the playoffs this spring. “Right now, I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” Lillard said on Friday. “My intention, my heart has always been set on being in a Trail Blazers uniform for my entire career. But I think over time, you want to win it all. I want to win it all in a Trail Blazers uniform. We all have to be making strides toward that.”
  • Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman explores why it wouldn’t make sense for the Thunder to trade Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Gilgeous-Alexander appeared in 35 games for the team this year, averaging 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per outing.
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