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Center of the Sun, Part 1: What stands out about the Suns, now tough week ahead

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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.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs Atlanta Hawks W (117-110) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Chicago Bulls W (121-116) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Oklahoma City Thunder W (140-103) Full Recap

The Suns are 34-14. After 48 games, they’ve already equaled their win total from 2019-20 and cannot possibly finish with a worse record than last season even if they were to somehow lose every single game remaining on their schedule. If they maintain their current 70.8% winning percentage through their remaining 24 games, they will finish with a 51-21 record. If they only win 50% of their remaining games, they will finish with a 46-26 (.639) record.

Their remaining schedule is tough - one of the toughest in the NBA - but I can’t imagine them winning less than 50% of their remaining games or even falling close to a 50% winning percentage for the rest of the season. Continuing to win at that 70.8% level seems like a tall order but the Suns actually play better against tougher opponents than weaker ones. Yes, they are 14-5 (.737) against teams with winning records and 20-9 (.690) against teams that are .500 and below. In their remaining 24 games, 13 are against above .500 teams and 11 are against those .500 and below. 14 of those remaining games are also on the road but the Suns have the best road record in the NBA (16-6/.727).

Of course, injuries are something you can’t predict and could play a big part in the remaining games for any team. So far the Suns have been pretty lucky in regard to injuries this season. The following chart is from Man Games Lost NBA and shows that the Suns have had the 6th fewest games lost due to injury this season as of March 23 (the latest data currently made public by them).

With the condensed schedule this season, the Suns will be playing four games a week, every week for the rest of the season including 6 back-to-backs with only one of those being at home. It’s going to be a grind getting to the end of the season and it’s going to take even more luck for the team to remain healthy through that grind.

Keep your fingers crossed, Suns fans.


Game Highlights

HAWKS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 30, 2021

Dario Saric 20 pts 3 threes 5 rebs vs Hawks

Jae Crowder Dagger And-1 Three - Hawks vs Suns | March 30, 2021

BULLS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 31, 2021

Devin Booker Posts a Season-High 45 PTS in the Suns Win!

THUNDER at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 2, 2021

Devin Booker Full Game Highlights vs OKC (32 PTS, 2 REB, 5 AST)


Key Stats

From @.StadiumSpeak on Instagram.

The graphic above speaks for itself. This Suns team can more than hold it’s own against the NBA’s best.

Team FG% - 49.0%, EFG% - 56.3%. TS% - 59.6%

While the Suns occasionally have cold shooting spells that drive fans crazy, their team field goal percentage of 49% is 2nd in the NBA. Their Effective Field Goal Percentage (a statistic which takes into consideration the additional difficulty of three-point shots and the extra points awarded for making a three-pointer) of 56.3 % is 5th and their True Shooting Percentage (two- and three-point field goals plus free throws are considered in its calculation) of 59.6% is 4th. Last week’s team FG percentage jumped up to 56%, EFG% jumped to 63.3% and TS% jumped to 65.9%, all of which were 1st in the NBA during that period.

The Suns’ best shooting percentage per quarter is in 1st (50.5%) and the worst is the 4th (47.2%). Their 4th quarter percentage is still tied for 2nd best in the NBA during 4th quarters though.

Random stats: In 2019-20, the Suns were 16-21 (.432) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes. This year they are 14-11 (.560).

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


Quotes of the Week

“It takes all of the guys to get the job done and get a championship. Once I figured out that part of the game, I definitely bought into the team aspect because I want to be successful. I want to be on a winning team. I want to win. I want to do whatever it takes to win.” - Jae Crowder

“The best teams in the league don’t always play great all game long, but when it’s winning time, you lock in and you lock down. We’re doing that.” - Monty Williams

“One of the things I look for in a group is remorse after a loss. We all feel like… you know what. To me that’s a great sign that guys really care. We have that kind of team.” - Monty Williams


Rookie Report

Jalen Smith - 4.6 mpg, 1.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.3 TO, 0.6 PF, 20.0 3PT%

  • This week - 6.9 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.0 TO, 2.0 PF, 0.0 3PT%, 2 DNP-CD

Ty-Shon Alexander - 3.0 mpg, 0.8 ppg, 0.4 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.2 PF, 33.3 3PT%

  • This week - 5.3 mpg, 4.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.0 PF, 100.0 3PT%, 2 DNP-CD

Injury Status Report

Abdel Nader - Knee/Game Time Decision.

Frank Kaminsky - H&S Protocols/Game Time Decision.


Previewing the week ahead

Monday, April 5 - Phoenix Suns @ Houston Rockets 5:00 pm AZT

Wednesday, April 7 - Phoenix Suns vs Utah Jazz 7:00 pm AZT (ESPN)

Thursday, April 8 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Clippers 7:00 pm AZT (TNT)

Saturday, April 10 - Phoenix Suns vs Washington Wizards 7:00 pm AZT

It’s back to the four games a week grind with two at home and two on the road with a tough back-to-back against the Jazz and Clippers thrown in for good measure.

First the Suns head to Houston to face a really bad Rockets team. There’s really no other way of putting it. They are just plain bad after dismantling last season’s 44-28 team that wound up with the 4th seed in the WC playoffs. They have a few good players to build around (mostly Christian Wood) but essentially are a mess. Their net rating is 26th with their offense at 27th and defense at 19th for the season. The Suns should win this one easily even though they have a tendency to sometimes play badly against bad teams.

Next the Suns return to Phoenix to take on the league leading Utah Jazz on Wednesday. The Jazz are 1st in net rating, 4th in offense and 3rd in defense. The Suns are 2nd in net, 7th in offense and 5th in defense. The Suns beat the Jazz 106-95 back on New Year’s Eve largely due to an excellent 2nd quarter in which they outscored the Jazz 32-18 and hitting 51.5% of their threes (17 of 33) that night while the Jazz hit only 35.3% of theirs (12 of 34). I expect the Suns to have a tougher time against the Jazz this game and, as much as I want to call it a win for the Suns, I just can’t bring myself to do it. I think the Suns lose in a close game.

On the following night the Suns will be in LA for their first rematch with the Clippers since losing to them 112-107 on Jan. 3. The Clips are good but a damned difficult team to predict. On March 29 they destroyed the Bucks 129-105 and then lost to the Magic (after they traded away most of their best players) 103-96. This is a road game and the second night of a B2B for the Suns but the Suns are really good on the road (16-6, best in the NBA) and on the 2nd night of B2Bs (8-3, 3rd best) for some reason. I think the Suns will pull off a close win in this one.

Finally, the Suns return home for a rematch with the Washington Wizards on Saturday. The Wizards are presently 12th in the East but still in range of making it to the play-in games. The Suns owe them after losing to them 128-107 in their first meeting after which they entered Health & Safety protocols for a week causing 3 games to be postponed. The Suns shouldn’t lose this game but with a backcourt of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook you never know when those two might go on a scoring spree. The Jazz’s last loss was to Washington in a game that Beal and Westbrook combined for 78 points so the Suns will need to keep at least one of them in check. I think they will manage to do that and get another win in this one.

I believe the Suns will go 3-1 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.