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Center of the Sun: Next man up, Suns probably must finish rest of season without CP3

Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Clippers W (103-96) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Houston Rockets W (1241-121) Full Recap

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard the bombshell news dropped at the All-Star game, Chris Paul is out 6-8 weeks with an avulsion fracture of the right thumb. That means he will probably miss all but the last 4 or 5 of the Suns’ regular season games... and that’s the likely best case scenario. Worst case, he’s done for the entire season including the playoffs.

I doubt very much that worst case scenario comes to pass though. I doubt that Chris Paul will let it happen.

The ‘good’ news is that the Suns have a lot of quality depth at point guard to fill in while CP3 recuperates. Cam Payne is supposed to return following the All-Star break. The acquisition of Aaron Holiday at the trade deadline now seems like a stroke of genius (or perhaps precognition?) on James Jones’ part. Even with his limited outside shooting ability, Elfrid Payton is no scrub. And then there’s also Point Book to fall back on too. The Suns might not thrive but they should survive CP3’s absence reasonably well.

With 24 regular season games remaining, the Suns’ 6.5 game cushion in the standings between them and 2nd place Golden State will be tested. The Suns will need to win 19 of 24 (or 18 of 24 if one of those wins is against GS) to secure the number 1 seed. If the Suns can just play .500 ball for the rest of the season, they will at least secure the 3rd seed in the West and at this point it’s already impossible for them to fall out of the playoff picture entirely even if they lose all of their remaining games.

Is winning the West still doable without CP3? We shall see.

Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery and return to the court for Chris Paul before the regular season ends... and that Flex’s info (below) proves to be accurate.


Game Highlights

CLIPPERS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | February 15, 2022

Mikal Bridges (19 PTS) Thrives in the Win Over the LA Clippers

Devin Booker (26 PTS) Continues to Stay Consistent vs. LA Clippers

ROCKETS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | February 16, 2022

Devin Booker Shines at All-Star With 20 PTS for Team Durant


Key Stats

Since this tweet went out, the Suns added to their clutch win total with their victory over the Rockets giving them a .889 win percentage in clutch games. That is over 200 points higher than the next best clutch team in the NBA, the Memphis Grizzlies (17-8/.680). How clutch they can be with CP3 on the bench is yet to be determined though.

Random stats: It’s a small sample size (3 games) but Torrey Craig has the highest per 36 rebounding average (8.5) of all non-centers on the team and slightly better than Frank’s (8.2). Last season with the Suns it was 9.2.


Quotes of the Week

“I’m going to try to heal as fast as physically possible and the second that I am able to play, I guarantee you I will be playing.” - Chris Paul

“We want our guys to hoop, play, and be doers. That means production on the floor while also being a good teammate and respecting the game.” - Monty Williams

“It’s just dope that we have two unselfish guys (CP3 and Booker) who can go get a bucket whenever they want.” - Mikal Bridges


Injury Status Report

Chris Paul (Thumb) Expected to be out until at least April 3.

Cameron Payne (Wrist) Game Time Decision.

Landry Shamet (Ankle) Game Time Decision.

Frank Kaminsky (Knee) Expected to be out until at least March 8.

Dario Saric (Knee) Expected to be out until at least April 1.


News & Notes

Phoenix Suns Are The Most Dangerous Team In The NBA: They Are Ready For The 2022 Championship. Fadeaway World

NBA Star Power Index: Chris Paul likely won’t win MVP, but is there a more valuable player in the league? CBS Sports

So the Phoenix Suns are really good in clutch situations. Deadspin

Determined Phoenix Suns remain red hot heading into All-Star break. Cronkite News

Defensive Player Ladder: Mikal Bridges shines bright on NBA-leading Suns. NBA.com

From rags to riches: The incredible Phoenix Suns turnaround. BasketNews

The Suns’ Championship Puzzle Looks Complete With Torrey Craig Back in Phoenix. Sportscasting

Aaron Holiday ‘fits right in’ with Monty Williams and the Suns’ vision. Basketball News

“Well done is better than well said.” Suns.com


This Week in Suns History

On February 22, 1977, Alvan Adams recorded a triple-double with 47 points, 18 rebounds, 12 assists and five blocked shots against the Buffalo Braves. He is one of five players in NBA history (along with Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Russell Westbrook and Vince Carter) to have as many as 46 points and 16 rebounds in a triple-double performance. The night before the game (on February 21) Adams also ate 47 chicken wings.

On February 25, 1983, Walter Davis set an all-time NBA record when he successfully scored his first 34 points before finally missing a shot. He made his first 15 field goals and converted four straight free throws before missing a jumper with 55 seconds left in the game.

On February 25, 1988, the Suns sent James Edwards, their 7-foot center, to the Detroit Pistons for Ron Moore and their second round pick in 1991.

On February 25, 2019, the Suns came back from a 63-52 halftime deficit to defeat the Heat in Miami 124-121 to break the longest losing streak in franchise history (17 games).

On February 26, 1987, the Suns appointed Dick Van Arsdale as Interim Head Coach to replace John MacLeod after he was fired following a 22-34 start for the Suns. Phoenix won 14-12 under Van Arsdale, finished the season 36-46 and missed the playoffs for the 2nd consecutive season. MacLeod had been the Suns head coach since 1973 and had previously led the Suns to the playoffs nine times (and their first trip to the NBA Finals in 1976) during his thirteen full seasons as head coach.

On February 26, 1988, the Phoenix Suns, unhappy with the prospect of heading for a fourth consecutive losing season, traded All-Star forward Larry Nance and Mike Sanders to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Mark West, Tyrone Corbin and Kevin Johnson. In the exchange, Phoenix also sent the Cavaliers the 1988 first-round pick they got from Detroit for William Bedford and received the Cavaliers’ first-round choice in 1988 and their second-round choices in 1988 and 1989. The Suns then made their third deal in two days - an exchange of small guards - as Phoenix sent Jay Humphries to the Milwaukee Bucks for Craig Hodges and their 1988 second-round draft pick.


Suns Trivia

Chris Paul’s 125 assists to Devin Booker, 121 assists to Deandre Ayton and 109 assists to Mikal Bridges are the second, third and fourth most assists from one player to a single teammate this season (first is Trae Young’s 135 assists to John Collins). CP3 also leads the league with 28 clutch assists.

Devin Booker is one of only three players ( Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James are the others) who have averaged at least 25 points per game in each of the last four seasons.

The Suns are 24-3 in clutch games and have more clutch wins this season than 8 other NBA teams have in total wins.

The Suns currently have only 3 players on their roster that weren’t selected in the 1st round of their respective drafts. They are Jae Crowder (2nd round, 34th pick) plus Torrey Craig & Ish Wainright who were both undrafted.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Thursday, Feb. 24 - Phoenix Suns @ Oklahoma City Thunder 6:00 pm AZT

Friday, Feb. 25 - Phoenix Suns vs New Orleans Pelicans 7:00 pm AZT

Sunday, Feb. 27 - Phoenix Suns vs Utah Jazz 1:30 pm AZT (ABC)

Three games for the Suns this week, one on the road followed by two at home. With CP3 out, win/loss predictions become a lot more iffy and if Cam Payne isn’t ready to return they devolve further into guesses. At least the first two games this week will be against some of the weaker teams in the NBA.

First up, a short road trip to OKC to face the 18-40 Thunder. OKC is already pretty much playing only for pride at this point and nothing would likely make them prouder than beating the #1 team in the NBA... or at least giving them a good run for their money. The Suns have already beaten this team twice in Phoenix but OKC kept both games close until the 3rd and 4th quarters respectively. They shoot a lot of threes (8th in 3-pt attempts per game) and on a hot night they can make life difficult for their opponents. I expect them to give the Suns another good game in front of their home crowd but come up short again as Phoenix gets their 3rd win against them this season.

Next, the 23-36 Pelicans come to Phoenix for their 3rd game of the season vs the Suns. The Suns are up on the Pels 2-0 in their season series and they won both games with Deandre Ayton sidelined. Having DA back in the lineup for this one should increase the Suns’ chances even with CP3 out. In the 1st game they played a center rotation of JaVale McGee and Frank Kaminsky. In the 2nd their center rotation was Jalen Smith and Bismack Biyombo. New Orleans had a 4-game win streak going before the trade deadline but have been 1-4 since then. Even without CP3 the Suns should be able to win this one at home.

Finally, the Suns will face the 36-22 Utah Jazz for the 3rd time this season for an early afternoon game. The Suns also lead this series 2-0 but won both by just single digits and had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to win the 1st one. The Jazz currently have the best offensive rating in the NBA, the 9th best defense and were on a 6-game win streak before losing their last game to the Lakers in LA. CP3 has averaged scoring 24.0 ppg against the Jazz this season (his highest ppg average against any team) and without him, this one could turn into a loss.

I predict the Suns will go 2-1 this week.

What’s your prediction?


Important Future Dates

March 1 - Last day a player can be waived by one team and remain eligible to appear in the postseason for another team.

March 10 - Last day to use a disabled player exception.

April 10 - Regular season ends. Last day players can sign contracts for 2021/22. Last day two-way contracts can be converted to standard NBA contracts.

April 11 - Playoff rosters set (3:00pm ET).

April 12-15 - Play-In Tournament.

April 16 - Playoffs begin.

May 17 - NBA Draft Lottery.

June 23 - NBA Draft.

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