Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
Phoenix Suns @ LA Clippers L (113-103) Full Recap
With a 37-15 record, the Suns have a solid hold on the 2nd seed in the West with just 20 games and 5 weeks remaining in the regular season. Believe it or not, in just 35 days the 2020-21 season will be over and the Suns will be preparing for their first playoff game since May 29, 2010.
Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire were the Suns’ headliners in that game against Kobe Bryant’s Lakers and only three players (Goran Dragic, Robin Lopez and Jared Dudley) from both of those teams are still on NBA rosters today. Devin Booker was a 14-year old kid with only dreams of someday playing in the NBA. Deandre Ayton was a 6’5” 12 year old soccer player who also played the tuba in his school band in the Bahamas and had never played organized basketball before. Chris Paul is the only current Suns player who was actually in the NBA at that time.
It’s been way too long since the Suns earned a role to play in the NBA postseason and it’s thankfully likely that they’ll make their return a good long one. Just how far they can go in the playoffs is open to debate but I would be shocked and dismayed if they didn’t make it to at least the 2nd round. I think most Suns fans would agree with me on that.
The Suns themselves aren’t likely looking that far ahead though as many times they’ve declared they were taking the season one game at a time and just trying to “pile up wins”. I like that focus and frame of mind and am hoping to eventually see them stack up a big pile of playoff wins this season too.
SUNS at ROCKETS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 5, 2021
Devin Booker Full Game Highlights vs HOU (36 PTS, 6 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL)
Deandre Ayton Full Game Highlights vs HOU (27 PTS, 11 REB, 1 AST, 2 BLK)
JAZZ at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 7, 2021
Devin Booker Full Game Highlights vs UTA (35 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL)
Chris Paul Full Game Highlights vs UTA (29 PTS, 4 REB, 9 AST, 1 STL)
Deandre Ayton Full Game Highlights vs UTA (18 PTS, 12 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 3 BLK)
SUNS at CLIPPERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 8, 2021
Deandre Ayton Full Game Highlights vs LAC (18 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST, 1 BLK)
WIZARDS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 10, 2021
Devin Booker 27 pts, 6 reb, 6 ast vs Wizards
19.3 pts, 10.8 rebs, 1.8 blks
Those are Deandre Ayton’s stats for last week while averaging 33 minutes per game. While stats over a 4-game stretch might seem like a possible blip on the radar, Deandre’s averaged 17.2 pts, 10.3 rebs and 1.3 blks over the last 12 games on 31.7 minutes per game. His rebounding and blocks have remained fairly steady over the season but his point production has increased as has his FG percentage. In the 13 games played in January his FG% was 60.8% but over the last 12 games it has risen to 66.4% and was at 68.6% in last week’s 4 games. During that last 12-game period, no NBA player that averaged at least 10 shot attempts per game (DA averaged 11.2) had a better FG percentage than Ayton.
114.8 ppg vs 123.6 ppg
That first number is the Suns’ scoring average for the entire season. The second is their scoring average over the past two weeks (7 games). For the season they are tied with the Clippers for the 6th highest PPG average. Over the last two weeks they had the best scoring average in the NBA.
Random stats: The Suns rank 2nd in the NBA with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.07. Chris Paul ranks 4th in the NBA with a 3.70 ratio and Cameron Payne ranks 11th with 3.33 ratio. Devin Booker’s current 26.04 ppg average this season ranks 4th All-Time in Single Season Scoring Average for Suns players behind... Devin Booker (3rd with 26.56 ppg in 2018-19), Devin Booker (2nd with 26.61 ppg in 2019-20) and Tom Chambers (1st with 27.17 ppg in 1989-90).
Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and/or Basketball-Reference.com.
Quotes of the Week
“If you really want to win in this league, you better have a defensive mindset, a defensive focus and guys that are willing to commit to that end of the floor.” - Monty Williams
“Being No. 1 in the West would be a huge accomplishment for us, but it’s just not our focus. We just want to win every game we can, and if that means we’re No. 1 in the West, then great.” - Monty Williams
“We move as one.” - Jevon Carter
Jalen Smith - 4.4 mpg, 1.3 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.2 TO, 0.5 PF, 20.0 3PT%
- This week - 6.9 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.0 PF, 0.0 3PT%, 2 DNP-CD
Ty-Shon Alexander - 2.8 mpg, 0.6 ppg, 0.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.1 PF, 20.0 3PT%
- This week - 2.8 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.0 PF, 0.0 3PT%, 2 DNP-CD
Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.
Injury Status Report
Abdel Nader - Knee/Game Time Decision.
Previewing the week ahead
Monday, April 12 - Phoenix Suns vs Houston Rockets 7:00 pm AZT
Tuesday, April 13 - Phoenix Suns vs Miami Heat 7:00 pm AZT
Thursday, April 15 - Phoenix Suns vs Sacramento Kings 7:00 pm AZT
Saturday, April 17 - Phoenix Suns vs San Antonio Spurs 7:00 pm AZT
The Suns are at home all week for four games against three sub-.500 teams and one just barely above that mark. This is the easiest week remaining in the Suns’ schedule so they need to take advantage of it and send all of their opponents home with a loss before diving into the toughest part of their schedule.
First the Houston Rockets come to town for their 2nd meeting with Phoenix. The Suns let the lowly 14-39 Rockets hang around way too long in their first meeting in Houston last Monday (a 133-130 Suns win). They can’t afford to do that again. In that 1st meeting, John Wall sat out due to injury but he will be back for this one and could make the difference between a win and a loss if the Suns don’t play them hard from the start. I think that near loss to Houston a week ago is still fresh in their memories though and the Suns will take care of business and get another win in this one.
Next the 28-25 Miami Heat come to Phoenix for their second round with the Suns. The Suns beat them 110-100 in Miami a few weeks ago but that was before they added Victor Oladipo and Nemanja Bjelica through midseason trades. So far their addition seems to have equaled out the subtractions of Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Maurice Harkless and Chris Silva but the Heat also just signed free agent center Dewayne Dedmon. This will be a different team than the one the Suns last played which makes the game difficult to predict. As the new pieces are still adjusting to their new teammates and schemes plus Oladipo will miss this game with a knee injury, I’m predicting the Suns will take round two although it could be a close one on the 2nd night of a B2B for Phoenix.
On Thursday the 22-31 Sacramento Kings come to town for the 3rd and final game between these two teams this season. The 12th place Kings still have an outside shot at making it to the playin games (3 games behind the 10th place Warriors) but are on a 6-game losing streak after putting together a 5-game winning streak. Marvin Bagley III might be back from his hand injury for this one but after being out for a month I’m not sure if his return would have a big impact on day one. The Kings are fairly good offensively (12th) but terrible on D (30th) which won’t help them much when facing the Suns’ 7th ranked offense. Although the Suns are 1-1 against them so far this season, I expect them to get the win at home and take the season series.
Finally, the Suns meet the San Antonio Spurs for the first time this season. The 9th ranked Spurs are still in the playoff picture and just 1 game behind the 8th place Grizzlies but have been fading lately. They’re 3-10 in their last 13 games but have kept most of those losses close and just broke a 5-game losing streak with a very close 2 point win over the 7th place Mavericks. I give a lot of credit to Gregg Popovich for keeping this Spurs team competitive but there’s only so much superior coaching can do. The Spurs are 20th in offense but a respectable 11th in defense. Curiously, that adds up to a net rating of 21st though and I don’t believe they’re quite good enough to pull off an upset on the Suns’ home court.
I believe the Suns will go 4-0 this week.
What’s your prediction?
COTS2 : Inside the Suns with the Fantable, Suns news, trivia, weekly history, etc. will be posted on Tuesday morning this week.