Phoenix Suns get back to work awaiting the results of the play-in tournament

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Suns have days off and then they have blackout days. The latter is still a day off, but one on which the Suns’ staff don’t want anyone in the building.

Because on “days off,” most players still come in and get some work done, so head coach Monty Williams gives these guys the time they need away from their gym.

A blackout day came Monday after the regular season ended on Sunday, ahead of a typical Tuesday off day, during which Williams watched guys run sprints all over the court and do other training while he met with the coaches. The Suns will likely practice every day for the remainder of the week leading up to Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs on Sunday. Her opponent, of course, remains a mystery until Friday night’s play-in tournament concludes.

Williams has mentioned that it will be normal for some teams to “decondition” a bit this week without games, and like the Suns they will/will not with dormant starters in recent weeks, there is no specific way how to approach this route.

“There’s a balance of trying to get in 5-on-5 because we have this week off. … I don’t have great answers as to what we should do,” Wiliams said Wednesday.

Since the Suns don’t know who they’re playing against, they might as well work on themselves, Williams said. They had a pre-practice presentation on Wednesday on things like transition defense, defensive rebounding, new creases in defense and offensive priorities before working it through on the court.

It’s a “self-scout,” with the Suns looking to get two or three of their own individual wins on aspects of their game that are better before the opposition’s preparation really kicks into high gear.

At one point during that trainers meeting on Tuesday, Chris Paul FaceTimed and the trainers changed something they were working on. These are also “days off” for this group. You never stop.

Williams said after Sunday’s regular-season finale that it’s almost identical to how the Suns approached that process last year after waiting as runners-up. The difference this time is that as No. 1 in the seed, they now have to go two extra days before they find out who they’re playing against.

The last thing it sounds like Paul is going to wait this time, or rather think much about it at all. He gave an “I think,” “Sure, I don’t know,” and “is what it is” when asked about the week’s progress.

“Man, I think we just have to take it one day at a time,” Paul said on Wednesday. “We’re talking about how it took us a full year to get back to this point, so I think the question now is what are we going to do with this opportunity.”

CAM PAYNE UPDATE

Backup point guard Cam Payne was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. Payne missed the Suns’ last two games of the regular season with a knee injury. He said that was something that flared up against the Los Angeles Lakers on April 5, and when he attempted a move against the Los Angeles Clippers the following day, his right leg gave out on him. That was a sign to him that it was bothering him and his head.

Payne went to Utah on Friday for his usual pregame individual warm-up, and assistant coach Jarrett Jack, who goes through target practice with Payne, noticed Payne was absent and brought it up. Then came the decision that Payne should be seated.

“It feels good,” Payne said Wednesday. “We’ll be good for Game 1. I’m fine, the knee is fine.”

Viardos Sports