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Center of the Sun: League leading Suns win total at 61, win streak at 8

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

Philadelphia 76ers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns @ Minnesota Timberwolves W (125-116) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Denver Nuggets W (140-130) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Philadelphia 76ers W (114-104) Full Recap

If you thought the Suns might relax a bit and rest on their laurels after locking up the #1 playoff seed, well, you were just plain wrong.

That just doesn’t seem to be in their DNA... plus I think they’re trying to send a message to the rest of the NBA.

A message of warning.

There aren’t enough superlatives around to heap on this team. With 2 weeks and 7 games remaining in the regular season, setting a new franchise record for wins seems to be all but a done deal as they only need 2 more wins to accomplish that. But I don’t think that goal is quite as important as just winning each game. These guys love to win, hate to lose and will keep on fighting for one more win until there are no games left to play.

They have the talent and the will to go all the way this year.

I almost feel sorry for any team standing in their way.

Almost.


Game Highlights

SUNS at TIMBERWOLVES | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 23, 2022

Deandre Ayton scores CAREER-HIGH 35 PTS

Devin Booker (28 PTS) Rallies Phoenix Suns in Victory Over Minnesota Timberwolves

SUNS at NUGGETS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 24, 2022

Devin Booker (49 PTS) Hits Season High in Epic Road Win over Denver Nuggets

76ERS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 27, 2022

Devin Booker STAYS HOT Records 8th career 35-PT game against the 76ers


Key Stats

30.3 points, 6.8 assists vs 25.5 points, 4.5 assists

Those are Devin Booker’s post All-Star stats vs his pre All-Star stats. His scoring has increased while field goal attempts per game have actually gone down slightly (20.3 FGA post AS vs 20.8 FGA pre AS) and his overall FG percentage is way up (53.8% post AS, 44.6% pre AS).

Following the AS break, Book has ranked 9th in scoring (he was 13th before the break) and his post AS assists number actually ranks 17th in the NBA among all players.

This man is on a mission.

Random stats: Devin Booker’s last 2 games against the 2 MVP favorites: Verses Jokic/Nuggets - 49 points and a win. Verses Embiid/Sixers - 35 points and a win.


Quotes of the Week

“We getting ready for playoffs. We ain’t thinking about no rest.” - Deandre Ayton

“We want to be fresh when it’s time to be fresh but we don’t want to lose rhythm. That’s a delicate balance.” - Monty Williams

“People think it was fluke what we did last year, we don’t listen to that.” - Devin Booker


Injury Status Report

Iffe Lundberg (Not injury related) Game Time Decision.

JaVale McGee (Non-Covid Illness) Game Time Decision.

Cameron Johnson (Quadriceps) Game Time Decision.

Frank Kaminsky (Knee) Expected to be out until at least May 1.

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


News & Notes

Devin Booker is having a spectacular season for Phoenix but where’s the MVP love? Deadspin

Mikal Bridges: The Defender You Need to See to Believe. The Analyst

3 reasons Suns will make and win 2022 NBA Finals. Clutch Points

Torrey Craig steps up when Phoenix Suns need him. Downtown Devil

Devin Booker found motivation in Nuggets using Amir Coffey’s photo during intros: ‘That was disrespectful’. NBC Sports

“It was once you couldn’t be a certain seed and win MVP”: Ja Morant continues his rally for Devin Booker as an MVP candidate. The SportsRush

Suns star Devin Booker’s strong 8-word message on Mikal Bridges’ DPOY case. Clutch Points


This Week in Suns History

On March 29, 1970, in just their second season the Suns upset the Lakers 114-101 in Los Angeles for the franchise’s first ever playoff win in game 2 which tied their 1st ever playoff win and evened the series 1-1. They would go on to win games 3 and 4 at home on April 2nd and 4th to take a 3-1 series advantage. Unfortunately, the Suns couldn’t get the 4th victory they needed to win the series and progress to the next round of the playoffs as the Lakers won the next 3 games. It was during this playoff series that Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn gave the Suns’ home, Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the nickname “Madhouse on McDowell.”

On March 29, 1971, the Suns drafted Ken Booker with the 6th pick in the 14th round of the draft. He never played in the NBA. He obviously was not related to Devin.

On April 3, 1994, Kevin Johnson scored a season high 42 points and dished out 17 assists while playing 45 minutes in a 108-98 non-OT win over the Denver Nuggets. He did not make a single 3-point shot in the game but was 14-16 from the FT line.

On April 3, 2002, the Suns lost 89-83 - in an overtime game - to the Philadelphia 76ers. It is the lowest point total by the Suns ever in an overtime game. Curiously, the Suns 2nd lowest point total in an overtime game (84 points) was in an 84-83 overtime WIN against Minnesota on Feb. 26, 2013.


Suns Trivia

As the tweet above was made before the Philly game, you can add one more 30+ point game for Book to that list!

In the past week, Devin Booker’s career points scored rose to 11,089 as he passed Amar’e Stoudemire for 6th place on the Suns’ All-Time points Leaders list. Next on the list is #5 Dick Van Arsdale with 12,060 points. For his career, Booker has averaged just under 1,600 total points per season (his best was 1,863 in 2019-20). With those numbers, he could possibly pass Van Arsdale, Shawn Marion (12,134) and Kevin Johnson (12,747) to move all the way up to #3 on the All-Time list by the end of next season.

Although we tend to mostly think of Devin Booker as a scorer, he is also 9th on the Suns’ All-Time Assists Leaders list with 2,215 career assists.

The Suns are now 45-0 when leading after 3 quarters this season.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Wednesday, March 30 - Phoenix Suns @ Golden State Warriors 7:00 pm AZT (ESPN)

Friday, April 1 - Phoenix Suns @ Memphis Grizzlies 5:00 pm AZT (NBA TV)

Sunday, April 3 - Phoenix Suns @ Oklahoma City Thunder 4:00 pm AZT

The Suns have three games this week, all on the road and the first 2 are big ones.

First up, the Suns head to Golden State to try and even the season series against the Warriors. You all know how tough the Warriors can be but this time they will likely be playing without Steph Curry (sprained ligament in his left foot). Even with Curry out, the Warriors are still a very good team that, despite been very inconsistent lately going 5-5 in their last 10 games, will certainly play hard in front of their home crowd. As GS is a team that the Suns could possibly face in the WC finals, I don’t think they hold back in this one and get win #62.

Next, the Suns will be in Memphis to take on the #2 team in the league, the Grizzlies. Again, the Suns will catch a little bit of a break in this game as Ja Morant will be out due to a knee injury. The Griz have proven that they can still win without Morant and will be another tough matchup for the Suns. Memphis has won 4 straight without Ja, including a 25 point win against the Bucks on Saturday and, since the All-Star break, they’ve had the best defense in the NBA. I know that the Suns will want this win much for the same reason they want a win against GS but I’m not sure that they will be able do it this time. While I think the Suns have a 50/50 chance at getting the win, I’m going to call this one a loss.

And finally, the Suns will travel to OKC for the 4th and final game of their season series with the lowly 21-53 Thunder. OKC is 1-9 in their last 10 games with their only win coming against an even worse team, the Orlando Magic (20-55). Unless the Suns try to sleepwalk through this one or decide to rest virtually everyone and hand out jerseys to random fans in the crowd, they should win this game with relative ease.

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

What’s your prediction?


Important Future Dates

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 2-3 - Conference Semifinals begin (possible move up to April 30/May 1)

May 17 - NBA Draft Lottery.

May 17-18 - Conference Finals begin (possible move up to May 15-16)

June 2 - NBA Finals begin.

June 23 - NBA Draft.

July 7-17 - NBA Summer League (Las Vegas)