clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Center of the Sun: Suns stall at 62 wins before final week of season

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

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns @ Golden State Warriors W (107-103) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Memphis Grizzlies L (122-114) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Oklahoma City Thunder L (117-96) Full Recap

Raise your hand if you thought getting to 63 wins would be this difficult... because if you foresaw this, I want your advice on picking lottery numbers.

Surely the Suns will set a new franchise record for wins this week... right?

It’s not the way I wanted to see the Suns enter the final week of the 2021-22 regular season but it is what it is and setting that record would be nice but isn’t that important in the overall scheme of things.

The Suns’ final regular season game is on April 10 and James Jones will also have some decisions to make between now and then as the 10th is also the final day that two-way contracts can be converted to standard NBA contracts thus making two-way players Ish Wainright and/or Iffe Lundberg eligible to play in the playoffs. For the Suns to do this, they would also have to waive someone to create a roster spot for them. If they decide to go with that option, the most likely candidates to be waived are Frank Kaminsky and Elfrid Payton, both on expiring contracts.

It’s very possible that they leave the roster as is but as Frank is unlikely to be able to play at all during the playoffs, it’s also very possible that he gets waived to make room on the roster for one of Ish or Iffe. Don’t feel too bad for Frank if that happens because he would still get a ring if the Suns win the championship. If any of the Suns’ rotation players wind up with an injury this week that could sideline them for even a few games during the playoffs, the probability of one of the two-way players being converted goes up.

While the playin games begin April 12, the first round of the playoffs will begin on April 16, giving the Suns at least 6 full days off before their 1st round series begins. The NBA will stagger the beginning of each series (half start on the 16th and half start on the 17th) as they’ve done before which could result in the Suns getting a full 7 days of rest between their last regular season game and their first playoff game.


Game Highlights

SUNS at WARRIORS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 30, 2022

Mikal Bridges Drops 22 Points in Win Over Golden State Warriors

Devin Booker Full Highlights vs Warriors - 22 POINTS!

SUNS at GRIZZLIES | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 1, 2022

Devin Booker 41 POINTS vs Grizzlies!

SUNS at THUNDER | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 3, 2022


Key Stats

45.7% FG (24th), 25.8% 3-Pt (30th), 23.0 assits PG (27th), 39.3 rebounds PG (25th)

Those are the Suns’ stats for last week. Their offensive rating plummeted from 3rd to 29th, their defense fell from 2nd to 9th and their net rating dropped from 1st all the way to 25th. With the #1 seed for the playoffs already locked up, the outcome of all those games really doesn’t matter but it was some ugly basketball to watch.

Random stats: One bright spot from last week was Mikal Bridges averaging 19.3 points per game (season average is 14.4 ppg) even though his 3-point shooting was off (25%).


Quotes of the Week

“Some people like to play basketball. I need to play. This is my happy place.” - Chris Paul

“I scratch my head at the way they decide the All-Star Game and all that stuff. He (Booker) seems to be the guy that’s been consistently left off. But, I don’t think it bothers Book. I think it drives him more than it bothers him” - Monty Williams

“Learn from it (the loss to Memphis), can’t dwell on it. I mean, we won 60 games, 15 Ls... we’ll be okay.” - Mikal Bridges


Injury Status Report

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

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


News & Notes

Suns star Chris Paul beats out Gary Payton, nearing Michael Jordan territory for biggest NBA thief. Clutch Points

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams doesn’t understand why Devin Booker isn’t a top NBA MVP contender. 12 News

Stephen A. Smith Picks Devin Booker As The MVP This Season. Fadeaway World

NBA Fact or Fiction: The championship is the Phoenix Suns’ to lose. Yahoo! Sports

Phoenix Suns: Most favorable first-round matchups in 2022 NBA Playoffs, ranked. Clutch Points

Chris Paul rediscovers his ‘happy place’ in leading Suns’ charge. NBA.com


This Week in Suns History

On April 6, 1993, the Suns entered the 4th quarter up 98-81 over the LA Lakers. They extended their lead to 20 points before going cold and allowing the Lakers to take a 2-point lead with just 1.6 seconds to go. The Suns had possession and inbounded the ball to Dan Majerle who made a 33-foot three-point basket for 115-114 win. Following the shot, Majerle jumped on scorer’s table to celebrate as cheers from the home crowd lasted for several minutes. It was the Suns’ first-ever season sweep of LA.

On April 6, 1994, Suns point guard Kevin Johnson had a career high 25 assists in a 107-95 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. The entire Spurs team had just 1 assist more than KJ’s total for the game. KJ’s 25 assits in this one is also the Suns’ franchise record for most assists in a single game.

On April 7, 1969, as a new expansion franchise, the Suns took part in their first ever NBA draft. The draft is mostly remembered because Phoenix lost the historic coin toss between them and Milwaukee which gave the Bucks the right to draft Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) with the first pick. What is not widely known is that the Suns went on to draft a total of 22 players in that draft! The last player they selected was Jim Plump in the 20th round with the 216th pick of the draft.

On April 9, 1990, the Suns made an NBA record 61 free throws (out of 80 attempts) in beating the Utah Jazz 119-115 in overtime. A total of 121 free throws were attempted by both teams. Kevin Johnson was sent to the line 24 times and made 23 on his way to leading the Suns in scoring with a total of 37. Tom Chambers was just behind him with a total of 36 points and was 17 of 22 from the line. The Jazz were 29 of 41 at the FT line and had four players foul out of the game, two others finished with five fouls and another four had four fouls each. Two players, Mark West and Dan Majerle, fouled out for the Suns.

The Suns’ 61 made FTs is still the NBA record for the most FTs made in a single game. The 121 total FT attempts by both teams is not and NBA record however. That record was established during the NBA’s first season on Nov. 24, 1949 when the Syracuse Nationals and the Anderson Packers combined to attempt a whopping 160 free throws in a 86-74 5-OT win for Syracuse.


Suns Trivia

The Suns’ 62 wins (so far) this season is only the 4th time in franchise history that the Suns have won 60+ games in a season. Their first time to accomplish this was in 1992-93 (62 wins), the 2nd was in 2004-05 (62 wins) and the 3rd was in 2006-07 (61 wins).


Previewing the Week Ahead

Tuesday, April 5 - Phoenix Suns vs LA Lakers 7:30 pm AZT (NBA TV)

Wednesday, April 6 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Clippers 7:00 pm AZT (ESPN)

Friday, April 8 - Phoenix Suns @ Utah Jazz 6:30 pm AZT (NBA TV)

Sunday, April 10 - Phoenix Suns vs Sacramento Kings (Game Time TBD)

The final week of the regular season is upon us as are the Suns’ final four RS games. With the #1 seed in the playoffs locked up, the Suns really have no reason to expend a lot of energy or take a lot of chances with playing their key players excessive minutes in any of these games.

First up are the Lakers. Anthony Davis is finally back and they still have something to play for as they’re 2 full games behind the Spurs for the final playin spot and will need every win they can get to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Lakers are still a pretty dysfunctional team but the Suns are going to have to want this win to get it. If Phoenix decides to rest anyone and tries to coast through it, LA will likely get the win. I’m betting that the Suns won’t want to let their home crowd down and will put enough effort into it to win though.

Next the Suns face the Clippers in LA. Being the second night of a back-to-back on the road is more worrisome to me than the fact that Paul George has returned to the LAC lineup. They have the 8th seed and a playin spot locked up with no chance of moving up or down in the standings. Will either team be really motivated to get a win in this game? Who knows. It looks like a 50/50 game at best.

For their 3rd game of the week, the Suns will play their final road game of the regular season in Salt Lake City against the Jazz. The Suns may consider resting players up for the playoffs more important than adding another win by this time but the Jazz will likely still be fighting it out with Denver to see who gets the 5th and 6th seeds. That makes this one difficult to predict but under normal circumstances I’d pick the Suns to win. Who knows whether the circumstances will anywhere near normal for this one though and I’m not going to make a hard call on who wins.

Finally, the Suns come home for their season finale against the Sacramento Kings. The Kings are lottery bound - again - but I fully expect the Suns to rest many of their starters in what will be a pretty meaningless game for both teams. If the Kings go ahead and play their starters and the Suns don’t, Phoenix could end their season with a loss. As this is a home game, I don’t think they want to short-change the fans though but I can’t be certain of that. This one could easily go either way.

I have no overall W/L prediction for this week as I just have no idea how much effort the Suns will put into winning any of these four basically meaningless games.

What’s your prediction?


Important Future Dates

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)