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Monty Williams says Brett Brown was a source for game-winning ‘Valley-Oop’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Suns head coach Monty Williams has his team two wins away from the NBA Finals. 

On Tuesday night, he credited former Sixers head coach Brett Brown as one reason why Phoenix beat the Clippers in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. 

Jae Crowder’s lob to Deandre Ayton gave the Suns a one-point lead on a well-executed out-of-bounds play.

After a long delay to determine the time left on the clock (0.7 seconds) and ensure the right 10 players were on the floor, the Suns walked out with a 2-0 series advantage. 

“We run that more when it’s a typical (baseline out-of-bounds play),” Williams told reporters postgame. “It’s pretty much a combination of something that Brett Brown used to run, and Joe Prunty ran a play when he was here with the Suns — Tyson Chandler got a slap-in. But I wish I was that bright, because I’m not. Jae just made a great pass. That’s the deal. He put it where only D.A. could get it. That’s great awareness by him.”

The humble Williams served as a Sixers assistant in the 2018-19 season before accepting the Suns job. He also spent the final year of his playing career, the 2002-03 season, in Philadelphia. 

Phoenix fell just short of the postseason last year despite an 8-0 run in the NBA’s Disney World bubble. They traded for Chris Paul in the offseason, although Paul has been sidelined for the first two games of the West finals due to health and safety protocols.

Williams has helped the players around stars Devin Booker and Paul thrive, including Villanova product Mikal Bridges and backup point guard Cameron Payne. The Suns went 51-21 during the regular season and are on a nine-game playoff winning streak. 

When he joined the Sixers, Williams explained that Brown was one of his first coaching mentors. Williams was a Spurs coaching intern during the 2004-05 season and became close with Brown, one of the assistants on San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich’s staff.

“He was the guy that gave me a shot,” Williams said in September of 2018. “Pop invited me to be around, but Brett said, ‘I got him. He can be in my stable.’ We spent every day together talking about coaching, life, on the elliptical. That stuff went a long way with me because he didn’t have to do it, and so when I left and went to Portland, we stayed in contact. 

“I got a head (coaching) job, he got a head (coaching) job, we starting competing against each other, and we never lost that relationship. Then, when this opportunity came up, it just seemed like not only the right thing to do, but it’s been a good transition for me. We have a unique relationship that started about 15 years ago.”

Even before the season had begun, Williams was impressed by how Brown empowered his assistants. 

“He’s always telling me to coach, helping on defense, transition, talking to Kevin (Young) about our motion offense. Brett doesn’t put a limit on what you do. That’s why a number of the guys that have been here have grown so much.”

Young was one of the assistant coaches who left the Sixers organization after Brown’s firing last August. He headed to Phoenix, accepting a position on Williams’ staff.

Highly likable big man Dario Saric is another notable Sixers connection on the Suns, who will play Game 3 on Thursday night in Los Angeles.