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Center of the Sun: League-leading Suns face a challenging week ahead as NBA Trade Deadline draws near

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

Phoenix Suns v Washington Wizards Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs Brooklyn Nets W (121-111) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Atlanta Hawks L (124-115) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Washington Wizards W (95-80) Full Recap

The new win streak ended at 11 but the Suns didn’t waste time mourning as they bounced right back and trounced their next opponent soundly. Sure the Wizards were a team that they should have trounced soundly but often we’ve seen the Suns allow lesser teams to hang around instead of putting them away early as they did with Washington. Nice to not see that this time.

This coming week will be a very interesting one for the Suns. Not only do they start the week facing three strong Eastern Conference teams (Chicago, Philadelphia and Milwaukee), the NBA Trade Deadline finally rolls around at 3 pm (ET) on Thursday afternoon.

Rumors and speculation on possible trade targets for the Suns have run rampant and should only increase until either the deadline arrives or Phoenix pulls the trigger and makes a move to improve their roster. With the best record in the league, a case can be made to stand pat and do nothing. While I think that might happen, I also think that it will only happen if James Jones can’t find a trade that he wins by adding a player or players that can help win games now.

It could be a wild week ahead so stay tuned in and we here at BSotS will keep you informed on the latest Suns news.


Game Highlights

NETS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | February 1, 2022

Devin Booker (35 PTS) Drops Another 30 Point Performance vs. the Brooklyn Nets

SUNS at HAWKS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | February 3, 2022

SUNS at WIZARDS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | February 5, 2022

Deandre Ayton (20 PTS, 16 REB) Returns to Form vs. Washington Wizards


Key Stats

Opponent’s 3-Pt percentages: 31.0% (in Suns wins) vs 43.4% (in Suns losses)

Everyone knows how difficult it is to win when your opponent is hot from three and no one knows it better than the Suns. In their 10 losses this season, their opponents have averaged 43.4% from downtown. Some of it is from defensive lapses/failures but also sometimes teams just get unnaturally lucky with their three-point shooting and there’s just not much you can do about that.

The Suns’ 3-pt percentages have remained pretty stable in wins and losses so those 10 losses can’t really be hung on their own 3-pt shooting for the most part. The Suns have shot 36.3% overall (6th), 36.9% in wins (24th!) and 33.3% in losses (4th!) this season. The Suns’ lack of reliance on threes to score - and to win - is evident in those percentages. They are the 4th best team in shooting 3-pointers in losses but only 24th in 3-pt percentage in wins?!?

Amazing.

Random stats: Over the last 12 games Devin Booker has averaged 30.3 ppg which ties him with Ja Morant of Memphis for 2nd in ppg during that period. During that same period, CP3 has upped his assists per game from 10.4 for the season to 11.7.


Quotes of the Week

“I’m gonna fight my ass off to win this championship this year, the next year, whenever it may be.” - Chris Paul

“We’re just hoopers, you can put us anywhere (position) and we’re gonna be ready to play.” - Mikal Bridges

“At this point, we’re going to start playing him (Deandre Ayton) his normal minutes so he can get back into a groove.” - Monty Williams


Injury Status Report

Cameron Payne (Wrist) Game Time Decision.

Landry Shamet (Ankle) Expected to be out until at least February 10.

Abdel Nader (Knee) Expected to be out until at least February 12.

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

NBA Trades: Pass or pursue on 3 rumored Suns trade targets. Hoops Habit

Suns star Chris Paul gets real on championship aspirations in Year 17. Clutch Points

The Suns, Monty Williams are scorching the NBA on a path of redemption. USA Today

Phoenix Suns Are Perfectly Following Phil Jackson’s Championship Team Theory Of Reaching 40 Wins Before 20 Losses. Yardbarker

Devin Booker taking next step is key to Phoenix Suns winning NBA title. Sky Sports

Suns’ Chris Paul Reportedly Spends Roughly $1M Per Year on Body Maintenance. Bleacher Report

Phoenix Suns Continue To Display Dominance En Route To History. NBA Analysis Network

The Whiteboard: Power ranking the NBA’s best second-units. The Step Back


This Week in Suns History

On February 7, 2018, the Suns tied the team record (set earlier that season on Oct. 18, 2017 against the Portland Trail Blazers) for the worst loss in team history as the San Antonio Spurs defeated them 129-81 (a 48 point margin). The Suns scored only 9 points in the 1st quarter, shot 9.4% (3 of 32) from three and 34.0% from the field. The Suns’ starting lineup for that game was Tyler Ulis, Josh Jackson, TJ Warren, Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss.

On February 9, 1986, the NBA All-Star game was played with no Phoenix Suns player on the roster for the West. It was the first time in team history that no Suns player was selected for the All-Star game. Also, no Suns were selected to participate in the Slam Dunk or 3-Point shooting contests. The Suns struggled through the 1985-86 season to a 32-50 final record.

On February 11, 1979, the Suns defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 136-101 in a game where 8 of the 10 Suns that played scored in double figures. The Suns were led by new acquisition Truck Robinson’s 24 point, 15 rebound double-double. The Suns also made more free throws (36) than the Cavaliers attempted (25) and out rebounded them 65 to 45.


Suns Trivia

The Suns’ recent 11-game win streak was only the 13th 10+ game win streak in team history. It was also their 2nd double-digit win streak of the season making 2021-22 only the 3rd season in Suns’ history in which the team has had two double-digit win streaks. The other two seasons were 2006-06 (17- and 15-game win streaks) and 1992-93 (14- and 11-game win streaks). They are also the first team with multiple double-digit win streaks in a single season since the 2017-18 Houston Rockets (which then had Chris Paul as their PG) that had 3 double-digit win streaks of 11, 14 and 17. The Suns have never had more than 2 double-digit win streaks in a single season.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Monday, Feb. 7 - Phoenix Suns @ Chicago Bulls 6:00 pm AZT (NBA TV)

Tuesday, Feb. 8 - Phoenix Suns @ Philadelphia 76ers 5:00 pm AZT

Thursday, Feb. 10 - Phoenix Suns vs Milwaukee Bucks 8:00 pm AZT (TNT)

Saturday, Feb. 12 - Phoenix Suns vs Orlando Magic 7:00 pm AZT

This week the Suns have four games, starting off with a difficult back-to-back on the road before returning home for the last two.

First up are the Chicago Bulls, currently 2nd in the Eastern Conference standings. The good news is that the Bulls will be playing on the 2nd night of a B2B of their own after playing the 76ers on Sunday afternoon while the Suns should be reasonably well rested following a day off after their relatively easy win against Washington on Saturday. The Bulls are a very good offensive team (4th) but a little below par on defense (20th). It will be a tough game but one I think the Suns will win, especially if backup PG Cam Payne returns to the court on schedule.

Next the Suns are in Philadelphia to take on the Sixers. A lot on how this game turns out will depend on how tough a night the Suns have against Chicago on Monday as this is Phoenix’s 2nd game of a back-to-back. Philly ranks 12th offensively, 11th defensively and 10th net. They’re a well balanced team that, like the Suns, doesn’t rely a lot on threes to score (28th in 3-pt attempts per game) but not because they are bad at shooting from downtown (12th in 3pt percentage). The key to this game should be the Ayton/Embiid matchup although Booker having a good offensive night against strong defender Matisse Thybulle could also be very important. I expect the Suns to be playing on tired legs in this one though and come away with a loss.

On Thursday, the Suns return home for their first rematch of the season against their 2021 Finals opponent, the Milwaukee Bucks. While the Bucks have accumulated 11 more losses than the Suns this season, don’t be fooled into thinking they won’t be a tough opponent. They are a top-10 team in both offense (6th) and defense (9th) and are still powered by the Greek Freak who’s 28.9 ppg average is 4th best in the NBA. This will be their fourth road game in six days though so tired legs could be a factor in this one. This game also falls on the day of the NBA trade deadline which could mean that one or even both teams could have some game day roster scratches due to trades. I still expect the Suns to come out hungry for a win over the Bucks and get it.

Finally, on Saturday the Suns finally get what should be a relatively easy - or at least easier - game against the lottery bound Orlando Magic. The Magic have the worst record in the NBA and struggle on both ends of the court (28th on offense, 23rd on defense). The only way I see the Suns losing this one is if they don’t take the game seriously and are looking past it in anticipation of next week’s games and/or the upcoming All-Star break.

I predict the Suns will go 3-1 this week.

What’s your prediction?


Important Future Dates

February 18-23 - NBA All-Star break.

February 20 - NBA All-Star Game.

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.