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Center of the Sun, Part 1: 4 games left in race to playoffs!

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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.

New York Knicks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns @ Cleveland Cavaliers W (134-118) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Atlanta Hawks L (135-103) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs New York Knicks W (128-105) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ LA Lakers L (123-110) Full Recap

A .500 week for the Suns likely put an end to their hopes for the number one seed but the good news is that retaining the 2nd seed in the West is also very likely. The Clippers are three games behind and Denver is trailing by four. All three teams have four regular season games left to play and all the Suns have to do to retain the second seed is win 2 of 4 no matter what the Clips and Nuggets do. The only path back to the 1st seed would be for the Suns to win 2 games more than the Jazz in the final week... which is an extremely unlikely scenario.

If the Suns stay at 2nd, their first round playoff series would be against whichever team winds up with the 7th seed... which will still be up in the air even after the regular season ends. The Lakers have that spot now but they, the Trail Blazers (6th) and Mavericks (5th) are in a tight enough race that any one of them could wind up in 7th after the final few games. The Lakers are most likely going to finish 7th but then the playin games start and could change the teams in the 7th and 8th seeds.

In the playin games, the teams that finish 7th and 8th will play each other once with the winner getting the 7th seed. The teams in 9th and 10th will also play once with the winner earning the chance to play the loser of the 7th vs 8th seeds playin game (the loser of the 9th vs 10th game is out). The winner of that final game gets the 8th seed and the loser is in the Lottery. At the moment, the teams with the best odds of being in the playin games are the Lakers (7th), the Warriors (8th), the Grizzlies (9th) and the Spurs (10th). The graphic below from NBA.com shows how this works by way of brackets.


Game Highlights

SUNS at CAVALIERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | May 4, 2021

Chris Paul & Devin Booker combine for big night vs. Cavs

Mikal Bridges vs CLE 22 PTS & D

SUNS at HAWKS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | May 5, 2021

Devin Booker 30 pts 5 asts vs Hawks

KNICKS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | May 7, 2021

Deandre Ayton 26 PTS 15 REB: All Possessions (2021-05-07)

SUNS at LAKERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | May 9, 2021


Key Stats

The chart above contains the stats that are most important this week.

Graphic courtesy of PlayoffStatus.com.

Random stats: The Suns are 30-9 (.769) when Deandre Ayton attempts 10+ shots and 7-2 (.778) when he attempts 14+. They are 18-11 (.620) when he attempts less than 10 shots. (Thanks to @evxz17 on Twitter for pointing this one out!)

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


Quotes of the Week

“We got some players man. We’ve got some players in our locker room. Our front office did a great job.” - Jae Crowder

“It doesn’t get any easier for our opponents either. That’s the way we look at it. They’ve gotta play the Phoenix Suns. I’ll put my money on my team any day.” - Monty Williams

“The play at the end of the 3rd (against New York) said it all.” - Monty Williams


Rookie Report

Jalen Smith - 4.1 mpg, 1.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.2 TO, 0.5 PF, 25.0 3PT%

  • This week - 4.5 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.5 TO, 1.5 PF, 0.0 3PT%, 2 DNP-CD

Ty-Shon Alexander - 3.0 mpg, 0.4 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.2 TO, 0.1 PF, 12.5 3PT%

  • This week - 2.8 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.5 TO, 0.3 PF, 0.0 3PT%, 1 DNP-CD

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


Injury Status Report

Cameron Johnson - Wrist/Game Time Decision.

Abdel Nader - Knee/Expected to be out until at least May 16.


Previewing the week ahead

Tuesday, May 11 - Phoenix Suns @ Golden State Warriors 7:00 pm AZT

Thursday, May 13 - Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers 7:00 pm AZT

Saturday, May 15 - Phoenix Suns @ San Antonio Spurs (Game Time TBD)

Sunday, May 16 - Phoenix Suns @ San Antonio Spurs (Game Time TBD)

It’s the final week of the regular season with a full schedule of four games with three on the road for the Suns.

First up, the Suns travel to Golden State to take on the 8th place Warriors. Although the Warriors aren’t quite as good as in their glory years (due in large part to injuries), they’re still a good and dangerous team. Steph Curry is averaging 31.6 ppg and can go off and score many more than that on any given night (he has one 62 point game this season and 8 more of 40+ points). The Suns beat them in their first meeting 114-93 without Devin Booker, Cam Payne and Dario Saric. I have no reason to to expect them to do less in this game with all those players back and expect a Suns win in GS.

Next the Suns will play their final regular season home game against the 6th place Portland Trail Blazers. With the return of several key players from injuries, the Blazers aren’t the same team the Suns have already faced and beaten twice this season. They’re 7-1 in their last 8 games with 5 of those wins coming on the road, including a 128-109 win against the Nets in Brooklyn. While their defense is 29th for the entire season, they have had the 4th best defensive rating over that last 8-game stretch, the best offensive rating and were 2nd in net rating. This will be the biggest challenge remining for the Suns as the regular season winds down and the Blazers still have a shot at moving up to the 5th seed (and the Lakers not far behind in 7th) so they won’t likely come into this game on cruise control. The good news for the Suns is that Portland will be playing the Suns on the night following what will surely be a tough game for them against the Jazz in Utah. It will be a tough game for the Suns but I think they will get the win at home.

On Saturday the Suns head to San Antonio for a back-to-back two-game series with the Spurs to end the 2020-21 regular season. The Suns played horribly in their first matchup, losing 111-85 after shooting 22.2% from three and 40.0% from the field. I don’t expect that to happen again but by the time these games are played the Suns’ playoff position may already be locked in and they could begin resting players instead of going after what could essentially be meaningless wins. The Suns could win both, go 1-1 or lose both depending on the situation going into these two games. Even if they do turn out to be meaningless in regard to playoff seeding for the Suns, I expect them to win at least one of them.

I believe that 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 published later today.