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Center of the Sun, Part 1: Suns still 2nd best in the West following 4-game road trip

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Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

Phoenix Suns v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns @ Miami Heat W (110-100) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Orlando Magic L (112-111) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Toronto Raptors W (104-100) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Charlotte Hornets W/OT (101-97) Full Recap

While winning 3 of 4 in a week certainly isn’t bad, it could have easily been 4 of 4 which doesn’t sit too well. Considering how bad the Suns were for so many years, I shouldn’t complain but I’m not used to actually expecting them to win so I suppose that’s why this year’s losses seem to hit a little harder.

I expect much more this year and perhaps too much. Even with the vets they’ve added, many of their key rotation players are still fairly young and inexperienced. They’re also playing a compressed schedule with less time off between games than normal and every team occasionally loses games that on paper they should win.

Those are the things that I keep telling myself but it doesn’t seem to work too well. I think it’s because I’ve just become greedy when it comes to Suns wins. Even now that they’re not so rare, they still taste so sweet that I just can’t get enough of them.

I don’t think that I’m alone in that either.

The Suns are a very good team again and we shouldn’t let a few bumps in the road back to the playoffs spoil the enjoyment of this season. Sometimes they’re still going to lose, sometimes their wins are going to be ugly and occasionally we’ll see them play at their best and make it all look easy. It’s pretty much that way for every good team in the NBA but it’s easy to forget when we’ve still got all those memories of the bad teams of the last decade.

My advice is to do your best to block those things out, focus on the here and now and enjoy this season to the fullest. Your Suns are contenders again. They’re not the favorites to win it all this year but they’ll have at least a puncher’s chance once the playoffs begin and that’s something really special to look forward to.


Game Highlights

SUNS at HEAT | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 23, 2021

Deandre Ayton Highlights vs. Heat - 17 Points, 16 Rebounds, 3 Blocks, LOCKDOWN DEFENSE!

SUNS at MAGIC | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 24, 2021

Devin Booker 25 pts 7 rebs 7 asts vs Magic

SUNS at RAPTORS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 26, 2021

Deandre Ayton Highlights vs. Raptors - 19 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks

SUNS at HORNETS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 28, 2021

Devin Booker drops 35 points in the Suns’ OT win vs. Hornets

Mikal Bridges Highlights vs. Hornets - 13 Points, 8 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 6 Steals!


Key Stats

18.1 free throw attempts per game (30th)

Despite the Suns getting to the FT line 29 times in Charlotte, those games are rare for the Suns and getting FT attempts is possibly the biggest flaw in this team. The Suns are 3rd in free throw percentage (83.3%) but they get to the line so rarely that their great shooting from the charity stripe doesn’t help put a lot of points on the board. Oddly, their difficulty getting to the line doesn’t seem to apply to every quarter. While they are consistently bad at getting to the line in quarters 1 (30th), 2 (29th) and 4 (30th), they somehow jump to 9th in 3rd quarters. Opponents average 22 FTAs per game (15th).

Random stats: The Suns starting lineup of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder and Deandre Ayton combined have missed only 8 games this season. Booker has missed 4, Crowder 3, Paul 1 and zero missed games for both Bridges and Ayton.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and/or Basketball-Reference.com.


Quotes of the Week

“Chris (Paul) is somebody I’ll ask for advice. He’s somebody that I can tell the truth to and he can tell me the truth.” - Monty Williams

“I told the guys in the locker room I’ve got the easy job. I just pass it to them.” - Chris Paul

“We pick each other up on any given night, and it’s great to be a part of it.” - Chris Paul


Rookie Report

Jalen Smith - 4.4 mpg, 1.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.2 TO, 0.5 PF, 22.2 3PT%

  • This week - 1.4 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.0 PF, 0.0 3PT%, 3 DNP-CD

Ty-Shon Alexander - 2.4 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 0.3 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.3 PF, 0.0 3PT%

  • This week - 1.4 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.0 PF, 0.0 3PT%, 3 DNP-CD

Injury Status Report

Abdel Nader - Knee/Game Time Decision.


Previewing the week ahead

Tuesday, March 30 - Phoenix Suns vs Atlanta Hawks 7:00 pm AZT

Wednesday, March 31 - Phoenix Suns vs Chicago Bulls 7:00 pm AZT

Friday, April 2 - Phoenix Suns vs Oklahoma City Thunder 7:00 pm AZT

It’s a relatively light three-game week for the Suns this time around with all of the games at home.

First the up and coming Atlanta Hawks (23-22) visit Phoenix for a makeup of a postponed game from January 13. Made some good additions to their team in the offseason, are presently 6th in the East and 8-2 in their last 10 games. Only one of those wins was against a team with a winning record and that was against the LeBron and AD-less Lakers. Don’t be fooled by that though as Atlanta has the 9th best net rating in the NBA and are 10th in offense and 19th in defense. Trae Young is averaging 25.7 points and 9.5 assists (15th & 3rd in the NBA) per game while Clint Capela is pulling down 14.3 boards and blocking 2.2 shots per game (2nd & 3rd in the NBA). This will be a tough game for the Suns but one I think they’ll win at home.

Next the Suns host the 19-25 Chicago Bulls for their second and final meeting of the season. The Suns won that first meeting in Chicago 106-97 but this will be a very different team than the one they faced just a month ago. They added a lot of new players at the deadline - headlined by Nikola Vucevic - to make an “all-in” move to improve themselves. Their first game after the roster remake showed that it could take some time for all the new pieces to gel though as the Spurs beat them 120-104... and it wasn’t really that close as SA was up 65-39 at the half. They should be a pretty strong team once all the new guys get acclimated but since they’re on the road with little time to practice I don’t think that will happen before the get to Phoenix. I’m calling this one another win for the Suns.

Finally, the Suns will face up with the 19-25 OKC Thunder. Al Horford has been shut down for the remainder of the season and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is expected to be out for an extended period with plantar fasciitis. Even before losing those two OKC’s net rating was 27th and their offense 29th. Their 11th ranked defense has kept them from being completely run over but I doubt that will be enough to keep the Suns out of the win column in this one.

I believe the Suns will go 3-0 this week.

What’s your prediction?


COTS2 : Inside the Suns with the Fantable, Suns news, trivia, weekly history, etc. will be posted later today.