Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
There is no longer any doubt that the Suns will have the #1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and will also have home court advantage all the way through the Finals. Chris Paul is back, Cam Johnson should be back soon, Iffe Lundberg finally got his visa and is on his way and even Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky could be back in early April. The only regular season concerns left are how many wins will the team finish the season with and where the Suns’ new franchise record for wins will wind up.
The Suns don’t need to win any more of their remining eight regular season games but you know that they will. Monty and James Jones aren’t going to sit anyone to rest them up for the playoffs until maybe the final 2-3 games or at least not until a new W/L record is achieved. Wins in three of those eight games will get it done and I don’t think doing that will require excessive minutes played by any of Phoenix’s key players.
And now, on to the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders who give their takes on the Suns latest issues and news.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - Which Western Conference team do you think could be the biggest challenge for the Suns in a 7-game playoff series?
GuarGuar: I think a healthy Warriors team could cause a bunch of issues given their star talent. They also can run some real unique lineups and coverages we haven’t seen a ton this year. I’d still be confident over them as long as we are healthy.
Sun-Arc: GSW if they are healthy and jiving; MEM if GSW is not healthy.
On Wednesday the Warriors defeated Miami without Curry, Klay, or Green. In Miami. With Miami shooting 39% from three. Miami had Lowry, Butler, Bam, and Tucker along with Oladipo. The bay-area boys have the ability to be a dangerous team, particularly in the playoffs where their vets are very well tested. On the other hand, Klay ain’t the old Klay and they really seem to be limping to the finish line.
Memphis on the other hand is relatively healthy and hungry. Morant has become a monster and Adams always gives us fits, as does Dillon Brooks. And they’ve proven they can win without Morant. JJJ is leading the league in blocks per game. Then there is Bane, Melton, and Clarke. They also have a little bit of playoff experience. They could be quite dangerous.
Honorable mentions to Utah and DEN if Murray returns.
Alex S: Weirdly enough… I think the Jazz are our biggest threat. Reason?
In a 7 game series, it’s realistic where a team could shoot the lights out from deep 4 times. And as the Suns have shown this year, in order to beat Phoenix you’ll need to shoot that thang from deep.
Golden State was the obvious choice but the lack of continuity and the impact Klay is having on the Warriors has me knocking them down a notch.
Rod: In the West, it has to be Memphis and then Golden State. Memphis has a lot of talented young players which can be both a plus and a minus at times though. Young legs don’t tire out as fast but inexperience can be detrimental in close games. Golden State has a lot of talent too and more experience than the Griz but they aren’t the same GS of a few years ago. They’re still very dangerous but aren’t consistently so. Even if both those teams are at full strength, I give the Suns the edge in a 7-game series if they are also fully healthy.
Q2 - If the Suns make it back to the NBA Finals, would you prefer it to be a rematch against the Bucks?
GuarGuar: I definitely would love to get revenge on them for last year. I think we have the big man depth now to create a different outcome vs them. That being said they would be one of the harder matchups for us and there’s other East teams I would prefer to go against.
Sun-Arc: I’d love for it to be the Bucks again, for a couple of reasons.
First: the rematch would be super fun. Particularly if we win again. We have another year of experience and are now an even better team. Like… quite a bit better.
Second: I really love the Bucks. They play the right way (no Pat Bev types) and are a good matchup. They are not a created “super team” like the Nets, nor dirty (like Pushoff-P), not arrogant (like GSW). And how can you not love Giannis. He’s such a great guy and a great matchup with Ayton.
Alex S: Nope, I don’t wanna stress with how Giannis is officiated on a nightly basis. They also remain our biggest threat due to size and shooting, along with a great defensive guard in Jrue.
Giannis is the best player in the world to me. Any time you’re up against that, you’re in for a challenge. Now, if that rematch *does* happen then that could potentially be one of the best matchups ever in terms of quality basketball. I prefer not to stress though!
Rod: Honestly, I would only prefer it because facing the Bucks again in the finals would probably add a little more fuel to the Suns’ competitive fire as it would also be a chance for revenge as well as a championship. Winning is the real goal but doing it against the team that beat them last year would make it a little bit sweeter but I really don’t have a strong preference as to which team the Suns would face if they make it back to the Finals.
Q3 - Dario Saric (expected to be out until at least April 1) might be ready to play again soon. Does he still have a role on this team and do you think he (and his soon to be expiring contract) could be on the trade block during the offseason?
GuarGuar: I don’t think Dario will or should play for us this season. I definitely think next year he could still have a role on this team but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the trade block. Expiring contracts have decent value in package deals around the league.
Sun-Arc: Does Dario have a role on the team? Great question. Only Monty knows. If he can come back, and not out of shape, I think he could have a role. He is a very good facilitator and can space the floor as a center. That is always valuable.
The question becomes what to do with the line ups.
- Paul, Book, Ayton, Bridges, Jae
- Payne, Shamet, Johnson, Craig, McGee
- Holiday, Payton, Kaminsky, Dario
- Wainright, Iffe
Dario feels like the odd-man out based on how the team has played this season. Long and defensive centers is our M.O., and Saric does not fit that. But leave it to Monty to use this to our advantage with a change-of-pace line up in the playoffs from time to time. And it would be a boost to the team to see him get back on the court.
Alex S: He doesn’t. Not this year at least…but it’s too early to fully dismiss his value on the team next year. However, with how successful the true bigs have been (DA/JaVale/Bismack), I think the Suns will stick with that route.
Rod: I think Dario could still have a role to play but it would likely be limited to specific situations and probably very few minutes. He’s the best 3-point shooting big that the Suns have but also possibly the worst rim protector of the bigs. I like Dario but don’t think that he really fits on this team any more and the Suns will attempt to trade him this summer.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week! (SouthernSun did not participate this week.)
Interesting Suns Stuff
Isiah Thomas on NBATV: "I think the Suns should run the table.— Follow @FTB_VIDS (@FTB_VIDS) March 24, 2022
James Jones: Executive of the year
Monty Williams: Coach of the Year
Devin Booker: MVP
Mikal Bridges: Defensive Player of the Year" pic.twitter.com/E7A1NC1jdm
Suns pull ahead in the West after defeating Nuggets, is Devin Booker MVP? | NBA | FIRST THINGS FIRST
Phoenix Suns Clinch the BEST Record
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “How long do you think it will take the Suns to clinch the #1 seed?”
97.9% - They’ll do it within the next two weeks.
01.5% - It won’t happen until the final week of the season.
00.6% - It won’t happen. They’ll find a way to drop to the #2 seed.
A total of 482 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
The Suns are presently 60-14 with eight games to go. Their final win total for this season will be...
This poll is closed
60 to 62.
63 to 65.
66 to 68.