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Suns joining rare company in rise from bottom to top of NBA

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The Suns are 39-11 in their last 50 games because there’s only two ways to beat them

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

You are seeing some tired legs these days from the surging Suns, capped off by a 32-point loss to the hot-shooting Atlanta Hawks.

Oh no! you’re thinking. Is the magic wearing off?

No, the magic is not wearing off. It just took the second half off in Atlanta, the Suns third game in four days on an east coast road trip. The last time the Suns lost such a game (Celtics, on April 22) they won five of their next six, including wins over the Knicks, Clippers and Jazz.

The Suns are now 47-19, holding the second best record in the entire league, only one game behind the Jazz for bestest.

The Suns media relations and statistical gurus have done some research on when was the last time any team has gone from bottom two to top two in two or fewer seasons.

If the Suns were to finish the season with one of the league’s top two records, it would be just the third time since the NBA-ABA Merger that a team jumped from bottom two to top two in two seasons or less:

Both were Celtics teams. If you recall, that 2007 Boston team added Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the same offseason, in exchange for (effectively) Al Jefferson and Jeff Green, and won the championship. The 1979 team added a rookie named Larry Bird that year and made it to the East Finals to start their new dynasty.

If the Suns can hold off the 76ers (they have a 2-game lead with 6 to go) they will enter the history books with this elite company and their first playoffs in more than a decade with incredible momentum.

And that’s when the real season starts. Our youngest Suns fans don’t remember the stress of the playoffs very well, but one thing is for certain: there’s no ‘three road games in four nights’ in the playoffs. The Suns will get several days to rest while the Play-In tourney decides their opponent before the first round starts and then at least one rest day between each game from there on out.

Why do I care about rest days with such a young team? Because for the past four months there’s only two ways to beat the Suns: make a boatload of contested threes, or play them on a SEGABABA (second game of a back to back), or both.

  • Loss — 2/3 vs. Pelicans: 42% threes
  • Loss — 2/16 to Nets: 50% threes
  • Loss — 2/24 to Hornets: 36% threes
  • Loss — 3/13 to Pacers: 46% threes
  • Loss — 3/18 to Wolves: 32% threes
  • Loss — 3/24 to Magic: SEGABABA
  • Loss — 4/8 to Clippers: SEGABABA and 48% threes
  • Loss — 4/17 to Spurs: 41% threes
  • Loss — 4/22 to Celtics: SEGABABA
  • Loss — 4/25 to Nets: 46% threes
  • Loss — 5/5 to Hawks: SEGABABA and 50% threes

In that time span of collecting 11 losses, the Suns have won 39 others. That 39-11 record over their last 50 is FIVE GAMES better than the next best team (Jazz, 34-14).

Only two times in 50 games (vs. Wolves, Hornets) have the Suns lost a game where they were rested and the opponent didn’t hit an uncharacteristic gobton of threes on them. Over that same 50 games, the Suns have held their opponents to the 4th lowest three-point percentage in the league (35.5%, compared to league average 36.4%).

I’d say that bodes well for the playoffs, and should put your mind at ease after last night’s loss in Atlanta.