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Kevin Ray, Phoenix Suns TV Play-By-Play Broadcaster

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
April 18, 2023 8:36 pm

Kevin Ray, Phoenix Suns TV Play-By-Play Broadcaster

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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April 18, 2023 8:36 pm

Kevin Ray joined Zach to preview Game 2 Suns-Clippers and discuss why Phoenix was lethargic to start Game 1.


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That's right. This is that Kelp show coast to coast on CBS Sports Radio game number two between the Clippers and Suns coming up later tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Pacific. The Suns are in an 0-1 hole.

We'll see if they can tie things up before this series does shift to L.A. And now joining us is the TV play-by-play man for the Phoenix Suns and that of course is Kevin Ray who once again joins us right now on the Zach Gelb show. Kevin, appreciate the time. How are you? I'm great.

Thanks for the invite as always. So let's go back to game one. It was a sluggish start for the Suns before they eventually made it a game. What type of effort do you expect early from the Suns tonight in game number two?

Well, it's not too much what I expect. It's what has to happen, which is, you know, you've got to come out with a lot sharper focus, certainly a lot more physicality and, you know, better execution. You know, and that's exactly what, you know, Ty Lue had said about an hour and a half before tip-off in game one, you know, knowing that they were a little undermanned missing Paul George. And he just said, you know, we've got to come out, set the tone, be physical and attack.

And that's exactly what they did. And, you know, the Suns were playing in a hole for much of the entire first half, got themselves kind of corrected a little bit. But, you know, you do that and you expend a lot of energy and you also allow the other team to build up a little confidence. And I thought that's what, you know, what played its hand in the Clippers coming away with a victory. It was surprising how flat the Suns were right out of the gate. Just wondering, what was the vibe like in the arena a few minutes right before tip-off with what the expectations are with the Suns of being very high this year? I mean, you know, if you're talking about the crowd, the crowd came ready to play. I mean, the crowd was amped up, you know, 45, 50 minutes before tip-off. So, the crowd came with their A game and, you know, like you say, for whatever reason, and Monty Williams acknowledged it at practice yesterday that, you know, it just came out slow. The ball wasn't popping around the floor the way that, you know, that they wanted and needed it to. And we've seen it do so in the past.

You know, and that happens from time to time. You just don't expect it or anticipate it in Game 1 of the playoffs. Kevin Rae here with us. So, Russell Westbrook in Game 1 has the greatest 3 of 19 performance you'll ever see just because of the hustle plays at the end of the game. It's kind of bizarre to ask you how they're going to contain Russell Westbrook because the stats were so horrendous. But how do they try to out-hustle Russ at the end of the game? Well, you said it.

That's the key word. You know, you have to hustle and look, it should come as no surprise and it's certainly no secret as to who Russ is and what Russ has been, you know, throughout his career. It's one of the things that I have always admired and respected about Russell Westbrook. And, you know, you can say about, you know, his shooting performances and, you know, talk about the kind of the failed experiment with the team down the hall, the Lakers. You know, I think there was shared responsibility on both sides. But look, you know, Tyloo has done for Russ exactly what should have happened in LA, which is just go be Russ.

You know, we're not going to try to change who you are. We still respect and appreciate all the qualities that you bring to the game and I'm not going to get hung up on a 3 of 19. And, yeah, there's moments in a game where I'm sure Tyloo will cringe from time to time with the turnovers. But, you know, from start to finish, Russell Westbrook is going to come 100 miles an hour.

And if you are the opposing team and you don't account for that, then shame on you because, like I say, it's no secret. Do you put a lot of that emphasis in terms of trying to out-hustle Russ on DeAndre Ayton just because he was getting rebounds down low late in that game? Well, it's not just on DeAndre Ayton. Look, DeAndre has got his own big man that he's got to account for. And whether it was, you know, Plumlee or Evita Zubats, who had a double-double, mind you, at halftime. So I don't put Russ' ability to grab off into rebounds solely on DeAndre Ayton.

And we saw a situation, Tori Craig even acknowledged, you know, he didn't get a body on him soon enough. Devin Booker didn't block out a couple of times. So when it comes to Russ, that's not on D.A.

D.A. has got his responsibility with the two bigs who both had double-figure rebounding. You know, it's on the perimeter guys to account for where Russell Westbrook is. And yes, he is an absolute tornado.

So you've got to have your head on a swivel and recognize real quickly, you know, where he is coming from on the floor. Kevin Ray here with us, the Suns TV play-by-play man, covering it from afar. Last year, when the series ended in the second round, and it was embarrassing for the Suns, I thought that was going to be it for DeAndre Ayton and Phoenix. We know he gets the contract, but even when he got the contract, some of the conversation was, once the deadline did go past, maybe he ends up getting traded so they get more back for him. After seeing how this year's played out, where's that relationship at with Monty Williams and DeAndre Ayton? Oh, I think the relationship with D.A. and Monty is just fine. Look, they've gone through, you know, the offseason, they've gone through an entire regular season.

There are no issues in regards to the relationship. You know, their only focus, both Coach Williams and DeAndre Ayton, is how we correct the issues from Game 1 and get a win here in Game 2 tonight. Kevin Ray, going to the locker room, I saw the interaction that Russell Westbrook had with the fan, and then I saw a good local TV report explaining that that is a shortcut. Why don't they just make the players go the normal way? Because bringing players in a playoff series right in that lounge with the fans, it just is asking for problems for me. You're right, but look, as we all know, you know, players can be strong-willed and they can be determined and they can kind of have their own mindset. And as many, you know, assistant coaches and security personnel as you have, it's a little bit like herding cats, man.

So you would think, and I'm sure at this point now, that everybody will be on high alert. It's one of those unfortunate things that happen from what I gather it sounds like and looks like that it was initiated by that fan, which is unfortunate because, you know, we don't want one fan to give the rest of the fans here in Phoenix a black eye. Russ is the guy who has squared off with many a fan because, and look, I'm in Russ's corner here. You know, it's often time we see it in social media.

Everybody's brave behind their social media or email, or in this case, from the safety of their seat. But when a player kind of stands up and draws the line, everybody shrinks and gets a little quiet. So I would just remind fans, you know, be loud, you know, be passionate, but don't be disrespectful because you've just given yourself, your team a bad name. This has been a topic of conversation and I kind of roll my eyes at it ever since Game 1. People are pointing out that Kevin Durant has not won a playoff game since that heroic Game 5 performance up against the Bucks when he was in Brooklyn in 2021. He played great in that Bucks series last year. He did not play great up against the Celtics, but they didn't really have a shot. Has that been a topic of conversation locally in Phoenix that it's been a while for Kevin Durant winning a playoff game?

I mean, it's only been a, you know, a minimal source of discussion. Really, the main focus has been the slow start that KD got off to, you know, didn't score in the first quarter, and then the very few touches that he had there in those final six or seven minutes. And I would fully expect that to be, you know, corrected in the Suns to counter with that. I do think that it does speak to some degree, just the little body of work and time that this collective group had in the eight games. And then you factor in, you know, in those eight games only once were they really challenged where they had to execute down the last three or four minutes. And that was on the road against Dallas and, you know, KD ends up hitting the eventual game winner.

So I think that there are a few things that played a role in that. Look, his past shortcomings with his other teams, there's nothing they can do about that. Right now, it's looking back, examining the things they can correct from game one, and I fully expect both he and the Suns to do that tonight.

I don't think this was a bold take, but heading into the playoffs, I know it was only eight regular season games, and now it's a ninth total game when you add in the one postseason game from game one. I thought this is a championship year or bust for the Suns ever since adding KD. Do you think it's fair to put that title on it and that tag on it, even with Durant barely having a lot of time to gel a mesh with his new teammates?

No, not at all, because you look at the core. Kevin Durant still has three years left on his deal. It's not a situation like they're dealing with in Dallas with Kyrie Irving, who is a free agent. You know, they know they've got KD for the next three seasons. Yes, I don't think it's any secret that this team will likely look different, could be significantly different next year. But you've got Devin Booker, you've got DeAndre Ayton, you've got Kevin Durant, a couple of other pieces under contract. So, yes, you certainly put your eggs in the basket from the standpoint of you pull the trigger on this deal. You loved it to win the championship this year.

But by no means, if they do come up short, do you say, oh, well, that was a failed experiment and now we've got to hit the full reset button here. Chris Paul about to turn 38, coming up early next month. How much longer do you think he'll play in the NBA?

That's a great question. You know, Chris obviously, you know, missed a bunch of games early in the season, so it has minimized his usage rate. I think that, you know, both Chris and the Suns will sit down and examine, you know, how they finished and how he can best serve this organization. You know, has a couple of years left on his deal. Of course, next year there is an opportunity.

It's not fully guaranteed, but I don't think there's any, either side is, you know, looking at making a decision anytime soon with Chris. He's still playing at a high level. Yes, he struggled in Game 1, but this is a guy that can still get it done, and I would expect him to the rest of the series. Wrapping up with Kevin Ray, the TV play-by-play man for the Suns.

Game 2 tonight, Suns and Clippers. You've been around this team for a long time. We know they were up 2-0 in the finals, weren't able to finish off the Bucs last year. The disaster performance late in that series up against Dallas, now being back in the playoffs. Where do you think this team is at from a mental standpoint? Yeah, it's interesting because that loss the other night was the first Game 1 loss that this small collective, because there's been several new faces on this team from that club that advanced to the finals a couple of years ago, but it's the first game that they have lost. First Game 1 that Devin Booker and De'Andre Ayton and Chris Paul together have lost.

So, they're coming at it from a different mindset, and who knows, maybe that will be the difference this year versus jumping out the 2-0 series lead, which we've seen them do and falter the last couple of seasons. You know Kawhi's going to get his. We all know what he's done in his playoff career and what he's done in this league. He's going to get his even more with Paul George being out what it looks like for the entirety of this series. Do you just kind of say, okay, Kawhi's going to get his number and just if it's in that 30 range it is what it is? Or do you think there's a way that they could do a better job up against Kawhi Leonard than what we saw in Game 1? Well, I think when you examine the numbers from Kawhi, there were a number of those shots that were just tough shots, well defended, and that's Kawhi.

So, I still think at the end of the day you'd love to try to make it a little more challenging for him. You'd also like to think that a few of those shots that he made in Game 1 he might not make in Game 2. But as strong as Kawhi was, I thought really kind of the difference makers was Ari Gordon. He got off to a hot start. I think he scored 10 of his 19 in the first quarter and hit two of his threes in that first quarter. And what that does when you've got a superstar like Kawhi, it puts him at ease because he feels like, okay, I don't need to take over early.

I don't feel like I've got to take care of these guys. And so, it affords them kind of a chance to be a little more balanced. And then Evita Zubac came out and set the tone early on the glass. And then Norman Powell played like Norman Powell has been for the last couple of weeks. So, as great as Kawhi was, I look at the performances of Ari Gordon and Norman Powell as two big catalysts. And then you throw in Mason Plumlee's 11 rebounds. So, those are the guys that, you know, they're not going to grab the headlines, but to me, that combined with Russ' just ferocity in that last five minutes proved to be the difference. Last thing I'll ask you, so you've fallen in the league for a long time. I'm sure you saw what happened last night was the bonus in Draymond.

Just how did you process it? I just saw Shams tweeted out that Draymond's not expected to get suspended for game number three. Yeah, and he shouldn't be. Look, I thought that the penalties, the infractions that were given last night were justified. I do believe that Sabonis was in the wrong. If you look at that, you know, I've watched the replay like most of you have a dozen different times from about 12 different angles. And it is pretty obvious to me that Sabonis, you know, took some contact from Klay, maybe, you know, marginally a flop there. As he falls, there was a little bit of a body collision, and he reaches up and he grabs the ankle of Draymond Green. You can't do that, you know, and it's one thing if you're protecting yourself. If you're protecting yourself, you know, you're covering your face and your head.

You don't reach up and lock onto something. So Draymond trying to break free, but you can't do the WWE stomp in the process of trying to shake free. So, you know, both sides got penalized, but I'm happy that he's not going to be suspended. I know that there was a lot of feeling like his past history, you know, should have been factored in and should have kicked him out.

But I don't believe that that should have been the case, and I'm glad that won't be the case. Yeah, you could break free, and you should try to break free, but to me that was definitely intentional last night on that stomp. Oh, absolutely, yeah.

I don't know if there's any question about that. When you see Draymond as he kind of looks down and is like, oh, there is a human underneath me. I think I'm just going to raise that knee just a little bit and bring the WWE stomp down on him. Kevin Ray, have a great call tonight at the Footprint Center. We appreciate the time. Thank you. Help save lives. Donate today at your local CSL Plasma Center and be rewarded for your generosity.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-18 22:13:37 / 2023-04-18 22:21:00 / 7

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