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Center of the Sun: League leading Suns hardly falter without CP3 and Booker

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

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Phoenix Suns v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers W (120-90) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs New York Knicks W (115-114) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Milwaukee Bucks L (132-122) Full Recap

The Suns have been hit pretty hard by injuries/illness lately but they, as a team, have largely risen to the challenge. That’s a testament to James Jones’ construction of the roster, Monty Williams’ coaching, the culture they’ve built and the talent and spirit of the players themselves.

This team was built to win. They know it and aren’t phased by the competition or whatever additional obstacles cross their paths. That’s character. That’s what makes this team special. That’s what will carry them through times that are tough and give them the chance to make history this season.

With 18 games to go, the Suns have an 8 game lead over the 2nd place Golden State Warriors and the 3rd place Memphis Grizzlies and can lock up the 1st seed in the West by winning 11 of those final 18 games no matter what any other WC teams do. If you’re worried about the fact that 12 of those remaining games are on the road, I’ll remind you that the Suns not only have the best record in the NBA but also the best road record in the NBA. The Suns have actually lost fewer games on the road (6) than they have at home (7). Booker and Cam J. should also be back soon and CP3 will likely be back for at least the last 4-5 games of the season.

Game Highlights


Cameron Johnson vs POR 20 PTS




Key Stats

15.0 PPG, 10.7 APG

Those are Cam Payne’s numbers over the last three games since returning from his wrist injury. For comparison, CP3’s numbers for the season are 14.9 ppg and 10.7 apg. Can he keep those numbers up there until CP3 returns? It would seem unlikely but who knows. Payne has filled in extremely well so far and I don’t really expect his stats to actually drop when Booker and Cam J. return.

20.3 free throw attempts per game (25th)

Yes, the Suns are one of the worst teams in the NBA at getting to the free throw line. Form your own opinions as to why.

Random stats: Jae Crowder is second on the team in steals this season with 1.4 per game. During the last three games he has led the team with 2.3 steals per game. While Landry Shamet has struggled with his shooting for most of the season, he has improved his 3-point percentage from 35.5% for the season to 43.8% over the last three games.

Quotes of the Week

“We’re a team that hates losing. We’ve done it 12 times (now 13) this year … you hate that feeling.” - Cam Johnson

“The pattern that we’re having to deal with from a free throw perspective is just getting old.” - Monty Williams

“We feel like we haven’t peaked and that’s the great part about our team.” - Jae Crowder

Injury Status Report

Cameron Johnson (Quadriceps) Expected to be out until at least Mar 8.

Devin Booker (Health & Safety Protocols) Expected to be out until at least Mar 8.

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

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

Are the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks Destined for a Finals Rematch? Sportscasting

Phoenix Suns missing ‘best backcourt in the league.’ Some unlikely heroes are filling the void. USA Today

The Long Two: How will the Suns navigate Chris Paul’s absence? The Step Back

Phoenix Suns: 3 bold predictions for rest of 2021-22 NBA season. Clutch Points

Deandre Ayton’s Murky Future Should Force the Phoenix Suns to Go All-in on the 2022 NBA Championship. Sportscasting

The Greatest Sun: Al McCoy.

This Week in Suns History

On March 8, 2020, Ricky Rubio had his second triple-double of the season (25 pts, 13 rebs & 13 asts) in possibly his best game as a Sun as Phoenix beat the Milwaukee Bucks 140-131 in TSRA. The Suns had four players who scored 20+ points in the game (Rubio 25, Booker 36, Bridges 21 & Aron Baynes 24) plus two more in double figures (Dario Saric 11 & Jevon Carter 12).

On March 9, 2003, three time All-Star “Thunder Dan” Majerle was placed in the Phoenix Suns’ Ring of Honor. Majerle played 8 season for the Suns, 7 at the beginning of his NBA career and the 8th was his last in the league following stints in Cleveland (1 season) and Miami (5 seasons). He averaged 13.5 pts, 4.7 rebs, 3.1 asts and 1.4 steals per game for the Suns and hit 36.4% from three for the Suns and is 11th on the Suns’ All-Time leaders in points scored (8,034), 5th in steals (811) and 3rd in three-pointers made (800).

On March 11, 2008, Shaq cleared the Suns bench while going after a lose ball.

On March 12, 2020, the NBA suspended the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The season would not resume until July in the Orlando “bubble” where the Suns would go 8-0 and just barely miss making the playoffs/play-in tournament.

Suns Trivia

Mikal Bridges is currently tied with Goran Dragic for 10th on the Suns’ All-Time list for career 3-pointers made with 398. Cameron Johnson is currently 12th with 382. Both should pass Dragic and Wesley Person (9th with 404) by the end of this season to join Devin Booker (2nd with 936) in the top 10. The only question is which will be 9th and which will be 10th at season’s end.

Previewing the Week Ahead

Tuesday, March 8 - Phoenix Suns @ Orlando Magic 5:00 pm AZT

Wednesday, March 9 - Phoenix Suns @ Miami Heat 5:30 pm AZT (ESPN)

Friday, March 11 - Phoenix Suns vs Toronto Raptors 7:00 pm AZT

Sunday, March 13 - Phoenix Suns vs LA Lakers 7:00 pm AZT (ESPN)

The Suns have four games this week starting with two on the road. With CP3 out and possibly Booker and Cam Johnson missing time as well, it could be a long week for the Suns.

The Suns begin the week in Orlando to face the 16-49 Magic who have the 2nd worst record in the NBA. They’re 29th on offense, 21st on defense and 25th in turnovers. Even with three of their best players possibly out, the Suns should be able to get a win in this one although it will likely be a much closer game than Phoenix fans would like. I’d feel much more comfortable if even one of Phoenix’s missing players was back for this one though.

Next the Suns make the short hop down to Miami to take on the Eastern Conference leading Heat. Miami is 8-2 in their last 10, 6th in offense, 7th in defense and the Suns will be playing them on the 2nd night of a back-to-back on the road. Add to that the possibility that the Suns could still be missing CP3, Book and Cam J. and the most likely outcome is a Suns’ loss.

On Friday, the Suns return home for a match with the Toronto Raptors. The Raps are a very good but not great team (13th on offense, 14th on defense). At full strength, I’d call this one a Suns’ win but we all know they won’t be at full strength by then. I have no idea when Book will be back but I do think that Cam J. will be recovered by then. I’m going to call this one a 50-50 game that could go either way.

Finally, the struggling Lakers come back to Phoenix for Round 3 of the regular season series. The Suns are 2-0 against them this season and the frequently injured Anthony Davis will be out again for this one. LeBron will try to carry this team as he did against Golden State on Saturday but I don’t think he will succeed against the Suns’ team approach.

I predict the Suns will go 2-2 or possibly 3-1 this week depending upon whether Devin Booker returns for at least the final two games against Toronto and LAL.

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 17 - NBA Draft Lottery.

June 23 - NBA Draft.

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