Suns coach Monty Williams didn’t go so far as to launch direct criticism of the umpire team that worked in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, but he did have some, uh, observations.
Following the Bucks’ 120-100 win Sunday night, Williams was asked about the difficulties in putting together a strong front-court rotation with Deandre Ayton trapped on the bench. The 22-year-old center got off to a good start, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the first quarter, but struggled with foul problems in the second half.
MORE: Best Highlights from Game 3 of the NBA Finals
Ayton was substituted after committing his fourth foul with 10:25 remaining in the third quarter and retired again after being charged for his fifth foul with 8:54 left in the final frame. He played just 24 minutes total in Game 3.
“I’m not going to start complaining publicly about fouls. I’m just not going to do that,” Williams said during his post-game media availability. “But you can see, we had 16 free throws tonight. One person had 17. So [Ayton] en – we have to learn from that. We have to beat the guys on the spot. It will grow from this, I promise you it will. “
Suns coach Monty Williams on Deandre Ayton’s foul problem and free throw discrepancy between the Suns and Bucks pic.twitter.com/ausWiegG0h
– Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) July 12, 2021
Williams was referring to Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who threw 17 free throw attempts compared to 16 on the entire Suns roster. (Milwaukee threw 26 shots as a team.) However, it should be noted that Antetokounmpo has been among the league leaders in free throws in recent seasons, with Phoenix averaging 18.7 free throw attempts per game during the 2020-21 regular season, the second-lowest mark in the NBA.
Phoenix tried 16 shots in the restricted area all night and GIannis tried 12 on his own. Based on that, I would expect them to have a similar FT volume. https://t.co/pkuamPcdcm
– Anchorage Man (@SethPartnow) July 12, 2021
When asked how he can guide Ayton through foul trouble, Williams chose his words carefully, but clearly intended to send a message about what he perceived as inconsistent calls.
“Yeah, it’s hard. I don’t even want to go there,” Williams said. “It’s pretty obvious. We have to figure out or define what a legal guard position is because there are times when you can move your hands out of the way, but it’s hard to tell a man what to do when someone meets you, you know what do I mean? I don’t know what a legal guard position is sometimes.
“But they were aggressive and we have to give them credit. I’m not going to sit here and complain about a team that is aggressive. But we have to understand how the referees are defining the game and then adjust to that. There is a ton of physique in the game. Sure, but as far as teaching her, we have to watch the movie and see where she can have a better body position and spot some charges when they come up. “
Williams may get a call from the league office regarding his comments, but if a little skill in the game gives the Suns a better whistle in Game 4, he won’t mind the consequences much.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.