Suns head coach Monty Williams did not directly criticize the referee who participated in the third game of the NBA Finals, but he did have some, uh, observations.
After the Bucks won 120-100 on Sunday night, Williams was asked about the difficulty of forming a strong frontcourt rotation with DeAndre Ayton trapped on the bench. The 22-year-old center had a hot start, scoring 12 of 18 points in the first quarter, but suffered foul troubles in the second half.
Ayton was replaced after his fourth foul with 10:25 remaining in the third quarter, and was sent off for his fifth foul with 8:54 remaining in the final game. In the third game, he played only 24 minutes in total.
“I will not complain publicly about fouls. I just won’t do that,” Williams said in a post-match media interview. “But you can see-we have 16 free throws tonight. One person has 17. So [Ayton] Yes-we must learn from it. We must beat the guy on the spot. He will grow from it, and I assure you he will. “
Suns coach Monty Williams talked about DeAndre Ayton’s foul troubles and the difference in free throws between the Suns and the Bucks pic.twitter.com/ausWiegG0h
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) July 12, 2021
Williams was referring to the Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 17 free throws, while the Suns’ free throws were 16. (The Milwaukee team made 26 hits.) However, it should be noted that Antetokounmpo has led the league in free throw percentage over the past few seasons, while Phoenix averaged points per game. 18.7 free throws per game The 2020-21 regular season, the second lowest score in the NBA.
Phoenix took 16 shots in the penalty area all night, and Giannis took 12 shots alone. Based on this alone, you would expect them to have similar FT quantities. https://t.co/pkuamPcdcm
-Anchorage People (@SethPartnow) July 12, 2021
When asked how to guide Ayton to solve the foul problem, Williams chose his words carefully, but he apparently intended to convey a message about penalties that he considered inconsistent.
“Yes, it’s hard. I don’t even want to go there,” Williams said. “This is self-explanatory. We have to figure out or define what is a legal defensive position, because sometimes he can remove his hands, but when someone meets it, it’s hard to tell someone what to do with you, do you know what I mean? I sometimes don’t know what a legal guard position is.
“But they are aggressive and we have to give them trust. I won’t sit here and complain about an aggressive team. But we have to understand how the referee calls for the game and then adapt to this. There is a lot of games in the game. Physical fitness, of course, but as far as teaching him is concerned, we have to watch movies, see where he can have a better posture, and accept some accusations when they appear.
Williams may receive a call from the league office about his comments, but if a little trick in the fourth game allows the Suns to get a better whistle, he won’t be too concerned about the consequences.