Phoenix, you have a winner in town. Backup center JaVale McGee is a winner. He has been a part of three of the last five NBA Finals’ winning teams and got his last title in 2020 with the Lakers.
In addition, he won a Gold Medal last summer in Tokyo. The three-time champion signed with last year’s Western Conference champions, the Phoenix Suns, in the offseason.
On Friday, McGee started for Suns center Deandre Ayton(illness) against the Boston Celtics, and he played well. McGee had his fourth double-double of the season, with a season and team-high 21 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. This was McGee’s 10th career game of 20-plus points and 15-plus rebounds.
Ultimately, the Suns(21-4) would rout the visiting Celtics(13-14) 111-90.
In 25 games, McGee averages 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds off the bench.
Last season, Phoenix had Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky as Ayton’s backup, but it’s clear after 25 games that McGee is an upgrade, and according to McGee, if he were in Phoenix last season, the Suns would have won a championship.
“I definitely bring championship experience,’ McGee said post-game. “I’ve been there and won it. I’m undefeated in the Finals. It’s just a challenge through the whole season to stay locked in, and I try to bring that energy every game, every practice. Every day they see me, I try to bring that great energy to the guys. Some guys have a bad history of being a cancer to a team, or they didn’t play well this game, or they didn’t play a lot this game, and that’ll change their whole mood. I’m not that guy. I’m the same way. If you ask any of my teammates, any of the coaching staff, of any team I played for too. For example, if you asked guys last year in Denver, I didn’t even play, but I was still being that guy, that energy guy, even though I didn’t play. So, it’s just what I bring to teams when I come. Yeah, I feel like if I was here(Phoenix) last year and I got traded here instead of Denver, we probably would have won.”
What McGee is saying is not far-fetched. In fact, the Suns may have won last year if McGee was on the roster. The guy just does winning things and makes winning plays.
In Game 1 of the Finals, Phoenix lost Saric to an ACL injury, which impacted the depth in the frontcourt. Also, the Suns were up 2-0 in the Finals against the Bucks, and maybe a guy like McGee, who has Finals’ experience, could have helped Phoenix get it done.
Phoenix is tied with the Warriors for the best record in basketball right now, and it appears that they will have a great shot to get back to the NBA Finals, so we’ll put McGee’s beliefs to the test this season.
Will he be the difference? We’ll find out in June.
-The Suns limited the Celtics to just four three-point field goals on 26 attempts(15.4%), the four threes and 15.4% were both season lows by a Suns’ opponent.
Up two (32-30) with 8:16 remaining in the first half, the Suns closed out the second quarter on a 25-9 run to take an 18-point, 57-39 lead into the halftime break. Phoenix’s lead never dwindled below double figures the rest of the game.
Watch below as McGee talks win over Celtics, and more: