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Center of the Sun, Part 1: Your Suns are Number One!

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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.

Utah Jazz 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 @ New York Knicks W (118-110) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs LA Clippers W (109-101) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Utah Jazz W (121-100) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Oklahoma City Thunder W (123-120) Full Recap

After a grueling two-week stretch of games, the Suns came out the other side tied with the Jazz for the best record in the NBA and owning the Suns/Jazz tiebreaker which makes them the number one team in the NBA. Also, no matter how they do in their remaining 8 games, they are guaranteed at least the 4th seed and home court advantage for the 1st round of the playoffs.

That’s right, even if they go 0-8 through the rest of the season, they cannot fall further than the fourth seed.

But we know that’s not going to happen. This team is just too good to let that happen. Are they good enough to finish this season with the best record and home court advantage throughout? I wish I knew the answer to that question but they are in the driver’s seat and their destiny is in their own hands during the final two weeks.

No matter how those final two weeks pan out for the Suns, on May 22 the first round of the 2021 playoffs begin and playoff basketball will return to The Valley. The last playoff game played in Phoenix was almost 11 years ago to the day on May 29, 2010 in what was then called the US Airways Center. The Suns’ last playoff win in Phoenix was a few days before that on May 25 when they defeated the Lakers 115-106 with Steve Nash, Stat and Grant Hill leading the way.

It’s been way too long of a wait but perhaps that will make the return just that much sweeter.


Game Highlights

SUNS at KNICKS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 26, 2021

Chris Paul Full Game Highlights vs Knicks (20 PTS, 5 REB, 6 AST, 2 BLK)

Mikal Bridges vs NYK 21 PTS 4.26.21

CLIPPERS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 28, 2021

Chris Paul Full Game Highlights vs Clippers (28 PTS, 3 REB, 10 AST, 3 STL)

JAZZ at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 30, 2021

Devin Booker Full Game Highlights vs Jazz (31 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST)

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

Devin Booker Full Game Highlights vs Thunder (32 PTS, 3 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL)


Key Stats

8,067 minutes played by 4 players, 5 games missed

Mikal Bridges leads the Suns in total minutes played this season with 2,094. Devin Booker is 2nd with 2,027, Chris Paul is 3rd with 1,987 and Deandre Ayton is 4th with 1,959. Jae Crowder is a fairly distant 5th with 1,508. Bridges (0), Booker (4), Paul (1) and Ayton (0) have a combined total of 5 games missed due to injury this season. Availability is an ability in any sport but especially in the NBA.

Random stats: Devin Booker now has scored 30+ points 110 times in his career. Those 110 games add up to 27.4% of his total games played (402).

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


Quotes of the Week

“Your team in general needs a clear philosophy. That’s what I learned [with the Miami Heat]. It was, ‘This is our philosophy. This is our process. And these are our people.’ You need all three of those things to be aligned.” - James Jones

“When I got here (Phoenix) and got a chance to see the culture they had already built, it’s special, man. For me, being away from my family, teams like this — they become your family.” - Chris Paul

“We are not satisfied. We are not settling. We feel like we’re just scratching the surface as far as the way we want to play, the way we can play.” - Monty Williams


Rookie Report

Jalen Smith - 4.1 mpg, 1.4 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.2 TO, 0.4 PF, 25.0 3PT%

  • This week - 2.6 mpg, 3.5 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.0 PF, 100.0 3PT% (1-1), 2 DNP-CD

Ty-Shon Alexander - 3.1 mpg, 0.5 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.2 TO, 0.1 PF, 12.5 3PT%

  • This week - 2.6 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.5 TO, 0.0 PF, 0.0 3PT% (0-1), 2 DNP-CD

Injury Status Report

Jae Crowder - Ankle/Expected to be out until at least May 5.

Cameron Payne - Knee/Game Time Decision.

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


Previewing the week ahead

Tuesday, May 4 - Phoenix Suns @ Cleveland Cavaliers 4:00 pm AZT

Wednesday, May 5 - Phoenix Suns @ Atlanta Hawks 5:00 pm AZT

Friday, May 7 - Phoenix Suns vs New York Knicks 7:00 pm AZT

Sunday, May 9 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Lakers 7:00 pm AZT (NBATV)

The Suns are back on the road again with only one home game this week and again they have a tough schedule to face.

On Tuesday the Suns will be in Cleveland to take on the Cavs. This is the easiest game of the week but can’t be considered easy. In the Suns’ first match with the Cavs, they were trailing Cleveland 91-89 going into the 4th quarter but pulled out a 119-113 win... but that was also the one game that Chris Paul missed this season. Cameron Panye was also out for that one which forced the Suns to start E’Twaun Moore at PG. Cleveland is presently on the verge of being eliminated from the playin games with some of their better players (Larry Nance Jr. & Taurean Prince) out for the rest of the season. I think the Suns will take care of business in Cleveland and leave with another win tucked into their collective belts.

Next the Suns grab an overnight flight to head down south for another game against the Atlanta Hawks on the following day. The Hawks gave the Suns a good game in their previous meeting in Phoenix (Suns won 117-110) and I expect them to play hard against Phoenix again as they are pretty much neck-and-neck with the Celtics and Heat for the 5th playoff seed in the East with the 4th seed Knicks not out of reach either. If the Suns don’t let Cleveland hang around too long the night before and they get their starters a little more rest than usual, I think Phoenix can get a win in Atlanta. If they don’t do that, I think tired legs in the 4th quarter could add up to a Suns loss. I’m calling this one a 50-50 game that could go either way.

On Friday the Suns briefly return to Phoenix for a rematch with the New York Knicks. I’m sure they haven’t forgotten how the Suns ended their 9-game win streak last Monday and would like a little payback for that. Seven of the wins in that stretch came at home for the Knicks though and they haven’t been that good on the road (13-17). I don’t think that will change this Friday and the Suns will get another win in this one.

Finally, the Suns make the short hop West to LA for their final meeting with the Lakers. The Suns have already beaten the Lakers twice this season and a sweep would be sweet but they won’t let the Suns take that easily. In their first game, the Lakers were missing AD and Kuzma. In the second game they were missing AD and LeBron. All three will likely be playing in this game but LeBron’s return from injury hasn’t so far resulted in a miraculous turnaround as the Lakers lost his first two games back to the lowly Sacramento Kings and the struggling Toronto Raptors. They will eventually get all back in sync and be a very formidable team to face, perhaps even between now and their game with the Suns, but I don’t think they’ll be fully back to 100% by then and the Suns will get the win in a very close game.

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.