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    Jae Crowder looking to rise all the way to the top this time

    Jul 14, 2021
    PHOTO: AP

    SUNS forward Jae Crowder is the only Phoenix player with previous Finals experience, as he helped the Miami Heat win last year's Eastern Conference title.

    That Finals experience was different from most with the entire postseason taking place in the Walt Disney World bubble.

    Even so, Crowder believes he can draw upon those memories while talking to teammates.

    "I definitely tried to use that experience leading up to this point of helping my teammates, letting them know that it's hard, it's very hard basketball, two teams colliding, giving maximum effort for it all," said Crowder, who scored 18 points and shot 6 of 7 from 3-point range in Game Three.

    "It's the hardest thing we'll do as a professional athlete, I feel like."

    But Crowder doesn't believe his successful playoff series against the Bucks last season has any bearing on this year.

    Crowder averaged 15.2 points and shot 43.1% from 3-point range when Miami upset the top-seeded Bucks in the second round.

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    "I don't think they go hand in hand at all," Crowder said. "I honestly feel like those guys, respectfully, are better than they were last year. Ad I feel like me as a player, I'm better than I was last year."

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    WAITING AND WAITING

    Players offered different opinions on the playoff schedule that gives them two days off with no travel between Game 3 and Game 4.

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    Bucks guard Jrue Holiday liked the extra rest, particularly since they had so little time to get ready for the start of this series.

    "It's great," Holiday said. "The season has been weird. We won Game 6 of the conference finals. We landed at 2 that morning and had to leave 6 at night to go to Phoenix."

    Suns guard Cameron Payne acknowledged the potential benefits but would have preferred a shorter wait.

    "Shoot, I'd rather go ahead and play, especially when you lose a game," Payne said. "You're ready to play 30 minutes after the game is over."

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    PHOTO: AP
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