Mikal Bridges credit energy and stamina for his NBA consistency

While last season's final defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks took some time to be overcome, Mikal Bridges believes the post-season experience and lessons learned can only serve to make both him and Phoenix Suns better in the 2021-22 season close.

Before last season's resurgence, it had been an entire decade since the suns had even hit the postseason. Since being acquired by Phoenix in a draft night deal in 2018, Mikal Bridges, tenth overall pick, has grown into one of the most versatile two-way players in the league and is an integral part of the culture change in The Valley.

He finished last season with a career high of 13.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and one block per game. His performance recently earned him a four-year and $ 90 million contract extension.

The small forward was just one of eleven players in all 72 games last season, which means one of the constants the Suns could rely on was his annoying defense against the opposing team's best perimeter player. He attributes his persistence to the sun's strength and conditioning program in conjunction with his own recovery routine. Bridges also tinkered with his diet last season, which became pescatarian. The change has changed the Chipotle Loyalist's regular order for some time, but he's back to what he knows.

Along with the core of Chris Paul, Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton, Bridges defensive versatility, persistence and continuous improvement are reasons Phoenix believes a repeat of the title is more than possible. Bridges spoke to Muscle and Fitness about his first playoff experience, the routine he followed last season to stay on the pitch, his offseason program, and the return to his regularly scheduled order at his favorite restaurant.

Barry Gossage

Experience is the best teacher

It was a great experience that we made it through the postseason for the first time as a team, played great basketball and made it to the finals. Of course you want to win. Every competitor does, but sometimes life doesn't go that way. I've learned that every detail counts. We're starting this year with pretty much the same team with a couple of new pieces and that definitely helps with the experience.

Mikal Bridges went straight back to work

I took about three weeks off and started training and workouts again. I got up early to do a good amount of these workouts. For me, it's about adding some weight to my body and staying strong. I have to eat a lot of meals and getting up early also gives you more time to eat. I get up and go on the pitch, do my shootings, work on improving my control and getting myself into situations that I know I'll be on with our offensive. I go home and lift. That's five times a week and I'm in the gym twice a day. I stayed with this routine for almost two months and it went great. The offseason was definitely shorter, but everything I thought about at the end of the season and how I wanted to train, I did.

The best skill is availability

I do a few lifts after the game, thanks to our strength and conditioning staff. I do this for my legs and the rest of my body. I'm also in the cold tubs and get stretched. You'll want to do some of these things the night before the games too. My days off are big days for me because some people may just need rest, but I may need to ride my bike for 10 minutes to get my blood flowing and then do my rest things to feel good about myself the next day . I just try to keep track of things and get my blood flowing on days off. I don't have to go out on the pitch or shoot in back-to-back matches, but there is something I can do on the bike to work up a sweat.

I think (load management) differently for everyone. I can say I can understand with a guy like LeBron. I was in the final once but he does a lot more damage than me with all the responsibilities he has on the pitch and all the times he has made it to the final – I definitely get it for him. I have a feeling that it's only people who take care of their bodies and that's it.

Get your Zs

I sneak a few naps but I think our coaching staff do a good job knowing that if we're late not to do a shootout the next morning or pull things back so we can sleep in. It's all an honor for our employees here. Since some of them are former players, they know what our bodies feel like. If you haven't played you wouldn't know what it feels like to play in back-to-back games. To play a game, travel, and play the next night – it's tough. If you haven't played all you can do is look at the numbers, but you don't know what that feels like. With coaches like Monty (Williams) and Jarrett Jack who played in the league, they understand that. They do a great job with the schedule and postpone things so we can get more sleep after we land.

Try new kitchens …

I was pescatarian for a while last season. I just wanted to try something different and see what it was like. My mother was a pescatarian when I was in college. We had a couple of vegans on the team. I didn't want to be vegan, but I could do pescatarian. It was a cool experience, but I don't do it anymore.

… But still go with what you know

My chipotle go-to is white rice, sometimes black beans, double chicken, spicy salsa, corn salsa, and salad. Sometimes I add guac to it. I removed cheese from my menu because I am lactose intolerant. I've always been lactose intolerant, but I was able to handle cheese and pay for the consequences later. It's been months without cheese now and I miss him.

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