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Center of the Sun: Suns return home with series against Pelicans tied

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 New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs New Orleans Pelicans L (125-114) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ New Orleans Pelicans W (114-111) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ New Orleans Pelicans L (118-103) Full Recap

As disappointing as it is to be tied 2-2 after four games, the Suns still have home court advantage in what is now a 3-game series. Even with Booker, this series wasn’t going to be easy. Without him, it’s become a struggle. With Cam Johnson moved into the starting lineup, no one other than JaVale McGee off the bench has played especially well. Three pointers haven’t been falling. The discrepancy of the number of free throw attempts between the two teams has been appallingly in favor of New Orleans.

Booker is very unlikely to play at all in this series so it’s up to CP3, Ayton and the rest of the guys to pull off a series win and get the Suns to the second round. Can they do it? My belief is, yes they can. Will they do it is another question though.


Game Highlights

#8 PELICANS at #1 SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 19, 2022

Devin Booker full NBA video highlights Suns vs Pelicans

SUNS at PELICANS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 22, 2022

Chris Paul Turns in 19 Fourth Quarter Points to Lead Phoenix Suns in Game 3 Win

Deandre Ayton Posts Postseason CAREER HIGH 28 Points in Game 3 Win

#1 SUNS at #8 PELICANS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 24, 2022


Key Stats

31.7 FTA per game vs 20.0 FTA per game

The free throw attempt discrepancy between the Pelicans (31.7) and the Suns (20.0) in the last three games. In the last two games, it gets even larger with NO averaging 36.5 FTAs and the Suns averaging 21.0.

39.4 % 3-pt (Pelicans) vs 29.3% 3-pt (Suns)

The Suns three point shooting has been pretty bad in this series, especially since Booker has been out. In Game-1 they shot a respectable 35.7% from three. In Game-2 they hit 37.1% of their 3-point attempts, largely due to Book being 7-11 from downtown before leaving the game. In Game-3 they shot a terrible 15.4% from three and made only 25.9% from three in Game-4.

Random stats: Cam Payne has yet to hit a three pointer in the playoffs and has made just 29.6% of his shots from the field. Jae Crowder has made only 1 three and is shooting 28.1% from the field.


Quotes of the Week

“Hits like that get us going. I think we needed a hit like that. Whether it’s incidental or not... that made us play harder.” - Deandre Ayton on the Hayes-Crowder incident

“Last year, I didn’t feel like I was a threat. Teams weren’t really worried about me unless I was rolling. This year I really wanted to work on my short rolls and beating switches. The game is more open to me, and I get to where I want to get.” - Deandre Ayton

“If we need him (Chris Paul) he steps up and starts hitting those middies and taking over. It’s just amazing the way he does it.” - JaVale McGee

“Everybody’s missed games except Mikal and we’ve been able to navigate those situations well this year and we know we can do it.” - Monty Williams


Injury Status Report

Devin Booker (Hamstring) Expected to be out until at least April 30.

Dario Saric (Knee) Expected to be out until at least June 30.


News & Notes

Chris Paul Gives Phoenix Suns Hope in the Face of Devin Booker’s Injury. Bleacher Report

Suns forward Cam Johnson shuns credit for Sixth Man of the Year nomination. Clutch Points

“He was Devin Booker from the center position” - Sam Mitchell impressed by Deandre Ayton’s performance in the game 3 win over the Pelicans. Sportskeeda

Behind Deandre Ayton’s Desire to Dominate the NBA Playoffs. Sports Illustrated

“NBA needs to investigate Scott Foster!”: Chris Paul and James Harden are nearly winless in games he has officiated. The Sports Rush

The Bucks and Suns Suddenly Face Daunting Roads Back to the Finals. The Ringer

Take a look inside Phoenix Suns guard Cam Payne’s new game room. The Business Journals


This Week in Suns History

On April 25, 1968, the nickname “Suns” was chosen as the name of the new Phoenix expansion franchise. The name was the winner in a contest sponsored by The Arizona Republic, a local newspaper. There were over 28,000 entries and the winner was awarded $1,000 and season tickets for the inaugural season. More than 300 people submitted some version of the “Suns” so the eventual winner was picked by literally pulling a name from a hat. Other entries that were seriously considered were Scorpions, Rattlers, Thunderbirds, Wranglers, Mavericks (Dallas did not yet have an NBA team at that time), Tumbleweeds, Mustangs and Cougars. Some of the other names submitted were a bit... odd. A few examples are Cactus Cowboys, Jumping Beans, Camelback Cagers, Unicorns, Pandas and Dudes.

On April 27, 1976 the Suns got their first ever playoff series win (4-2) when they defeated the Seattle SuperSonics 123-112 in game 6 of their 1st round playoff series. Keith Erickson came off the bench to lead the Suns in scoring with 20 pts. Paul Westphal, Gar Heard and Ricky Sobers added 18 pts each and Alvan Adams finished one rebound short of a triple-double with 10 pts, 10 assists and 9 rebounds while also getting 3 steals and 2 blocks.

On April 27, 1997, the Suns suffered their worst ever playoff loss at the hands of the Seattle Supersonics (122-78) in Game 2 of their 1st round series. Phoenix made just 26.9% of it’s field goal attempts during the game. Suns rookie point guard Steve Nash played 9 minutes of “garbage time” in his first ever NBA playoff game with a stat line of 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block (!), 2 turnovers and 4 personal fouls. The Suns would ultimately lose the 5-game series 3-2.


Suns Trivia

When the Suns were awarded their expansion franchise, Stan Fabe, who owned a commercial printing plant in Tucson, designed the team’s first iconic logo for a mere $200. This was after the team had paid $5,000 to a local artist to design a team logo but were disappointed with the results.

In Game 2, Devin Booker became the only player over the last 25 seasons with 30 points in a half without shooting any free throws in a playoff game.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Tuesday, April 26 - Phoenix Suns vs New Orleans Pelicans 7:00 pm AZT (TNT)

Thursday, April 28 - Phoenix Suns @ New Orleans Pelicans TBD (if necessary)

Saturday, April 30 - Phoenix Suns vs New Orleans Pelicans TBD (if necessary)

This week I predict the Suns will win Game-5 at home on Tuesday. Game-6 in New Orleans... I’m calling that one a 50-50 game but the pessimist in me pushes me toward calling it a Pelicans’ win. If all that happens, my prediction is a Suns win in Game-7 back in Phoenix.

Basically, I believe the Suns will win the series in 6 or 7 games.

What’s your prediction?


Important Future Dates

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)