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Center of the Sun: Suns send Pelicans on vacation, gear up for Mavericks

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 Six Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs New Orleans Pelicans W (112-97) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ New Orleans Pelicans W (115-109) Full Recap

Hats off to the New Orleans Pelicans for making their first round playoff series with the Suns more competitive than many of us expected. Devin Booker missing three and a half of their six games certainly played a part in that but Willie Green deserves a lot of credit too for the way he guided that team.

This week the Suns face a different kind of animal in round 2, the Dallas Mavericks. These guys love shooting threes (most 3-pt attempts by any team in the playoffs) and are pretty good at making them (37.1%). 44.4% of their total points per game (1st in playoffs) come from threes. The Suns will definitely need to play good perimeter defense against them. They’re also a smaller team than the Pelicans overall though which should help equal out the battle for rebounds in this series. Dallas averaged fewer second chance points than the Suns (9.0 vs 9.8) in their series against the Jazz.

The Mavericks won’t be an easy challenge for the Suns but I think they matchup better against Dallas than New Orleans.

It should be a great series and it starts tonight!


Game Highlights

PELICANS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 26, 2022

Mikal Bridges (31 PTS, 4 BLK) Posts Postseason Career Highs in Game 5 Win

Chris Paul (22 PTS, 11 AST) Bounces Back With Double-Double vs. Pelicans

#1 SUNS at #8 PELICANS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 28, 2022

Chris Paul (33 PTS) Goes 14-14 to Lead Phoenix Suns to Second Round

Deandre Ayton Highlights | Pelicans vs. Suns | 28th Apr 2022


Key Stats

52.3% FG percentage (1st), 31.9% 3-PT percentage (13th)

The Suns attempted only 27.2 threes per game against NO, ranking 15th in 3-PT attempts in the playoffs. Their 3-pt percentage for the series was bad but varied wildly from game to game with a low of 15.4% in Game-3 and a high of 40.0% in Game-6. Somewhat surprisingly, the Suns won both games. Their FG percentage was remarkably steady over all six games though with a low of 50.0% in games 2 and 5 and a high of 60.0% in Game-6.

57.5% EFG% (4th), 60.8 TS% (4th)

The Suns trail only Golden State, Brooklyn and Philadelphia in Effective Field Goal Percentage and True Shooting Percentage in the playoffs.

35.7 total rebounds per game (15th), 28.2 DREB (14th), 7.5 OREB (13th)

While the lack of rebounding against New Orleans was a constant worry in round one, Dallas also was near the bottom in rebounding in their series against the Jazz with 37.7 total RPG (tied for 12th), 31.7 DREBs (not too shabby at 8th) and dead last in OREBs with just 6.0 per game.

Random stats: Deandre Ayton has defended a playoff-high 56 shots within 6 feet of the rim and players are shooting 19.9% worse than their average on those shots.


Quotes of the Week

“I want the ball... I want that big moment.” - Chris Paul

“I’ll do what’s best for the team, but when it comes to me working on myself, I don’t work on the things you see in the game. I work on everything else I need to work on and add to my game.” - Deandre Ayton

“You can’t clone him (Mikal Bridges), but you wish you could.” - Monty Williams


Injury Status Report

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


News & Notes

Devin Booker wants his due … but not as much as an NBA championship. Andscape

Series preview: Fully-stocked Suns, Mavs seem set for intense series. NBA.com

Poll: Phoenix Suns Vs. Dallas Mavericks. Hoops Rumors

Behind Chris Paul’s Perfect Execution, The Phoenix Suns Survived Their First Challenge. Forbes

Chris Paul’s Game 6 masterclass is his latest moment of greatness. Basketball News

Suns’ Chris Paul set curfew for teammates during playoff series against Pelicans, per report. CBS Sports

Suns’ Monty Williams, Jae Crowder offer up hilarious reactions to ‘Coach Book’ question. Clutch Points

Will Deandre Ayton Get His Moment in the Sun? The Ringer

“We needed it. That team right there, they pushed us.” — Chris Paul on his historic 100% night. Basketball Network


This Week in Suns History

On May 2, 2018, the Suns hired Igor Kokoskov as Head Coach. He was the first coach born and raised outside of North America to be hired as a head coach in the NBA and had formerly been an assistant coach with the Suns from 2008 through 2013. Unfortunately, the Suns finished that season with a 19–63 record, the second worst in team history, and Kokoskov was fired shortly before the 1st anniversary of his hiring.

On May 3, 2019, the Suns hired Monty Williams as Head Coach. In his 1st season he would lead the Suns to a much improved regular season record, the now historic 8-0 run in The Bubble and just miss making it to the NBA’s new playin tournament. In his second season, he would lead the team back to the NBA Finals for just the 3rd time in franchise history. His total regular season W/L percentage of .656 is second only to Paul Westphal’s .685 percentage from 1992-1996. His current playoffs W/L percentage of .636 is the highest in franchise history.

On May 4, 1994, Charles Barkley hit 23-of-31 field goal attempts and finished with 56 points to lead the visiting Suns to a 140-133 win over Golden State and a three-game sweep of their Western Conference First Round series. Barkley’s 56 points tied for the third-highest total ever in an NBA Playoff game and his 38 points in the first half set a record. Sleepy Floyd holds the second-half scoring record in the NBA Playoffs with 39 points, which he scored in Golden State’s 129-121 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 of the 1987 Western Conference Semifinals.

On May 5, 2010, the Suns made national headlines when they donned jerseys emblazoned with “Los Suns.” They were worn “to celebrate diversity on Cinco de Mayo,” according to team owner Robert Sarver, but also to protest a controversial immigration law that had been recently signed by Arizona’s governor. Los Suns beat the San Antonio Spurs, 110-102 in a conference semi-final contest.

On May 6, 1968, the Suns acquired their first player during the NBA Expansion Draft, selecting 6-5 guard Dick Van Arsdale from New York. Van Arsdale is still affectionately known as “The Original Sun.”


Suns Trivia

In addition to becoming the first player in NBA history to make 13+ shots in a Playoff game without a miss, Chris Paul has also joined LeBron James and Magic Johnson as the only three players in NBA history with 31+ playoff games with 20+ points and 10+ assists.

In Game-5 of the Suns/Pelicans 1st round series, Mikal Bridges became only the 7th player in NBA history to have 30 points, 4 made threes and 4 blocks in a playoff game. The other six are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter.

During the Suns/Pelicans series, Chris Paul passed Jason Kidd for 6th on the Suns’ All-Time Playoffs Assists leaders list. CP3 currently has 239 total playoff assists for the Suns and needs just 9 more to move ahead of Paul Westphal for 5th place. He needs 58 more to pass Walter Davis for 4th and 82 more to pass Alvan Adams for 3rd.

Deandre Ayton is the only player in NBA postseason history to average 20+ PPG on 70+ FG% over a six (or more) game series. 47.6% of his FG attempts have been from 10 feet or beyond. In last year’s playoffs only 13.6% of his FGAs were from 10 feet or beyond.

Jae Crowder only needs to score 2 more points for his career playoffs points total (1,065) to surpass that of often injured LAL star player Anthony Davis (1,066).

Devin Booker finished 13th in NBA jersey sales for the 2021-22 season.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Monday, May 2 - Phoenix Suns vs Dallas Mavericks 7:00 pm AZT (TNT)

Wednesday, May 4 - Phoenix Suns vs Dallas Mavericks 7:00 pm AZT (TNT)

Friday, May 6 - Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks 6:30 pm AZT (ESPN)

Sunday, May 8 - Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks 12:30 pm AZT (ESPN)

It’s second round playoff action time and this week, all week, the Suns’ opponent is the Dallas Mavericks. Despite them finishing the regular season 4th in the West, I don’t believe that there is a great deal of difference between them and any of the other seeded teams below them. That’s not a knock on them, it’s rather a nod toward the depth of quality teams in the West this year.

This won’t be an easy series win for the Suns but I do expect them to win it, perhaps in fewer games than the Pelicans series if everyone stays healthy. For this week though, I expect the Suns to take both games at home, and win at least one in Dallas. I would not be greatly surprised if they actually sweep this series although I don’t expect them to.

I predict that the Suns will will go 3-1 this week.

As a bonus, this week I’ve also asked the Fantable members to join me to give us their Suns/Mavs series predictions.

GuarGuar: Suns in 5. I like how we matchup much better. I think that Pelicans series was a great thing for this team.

Sun-Arc: Before I saw how limp the Suns came out in the first round I had picked us to play DAL in the second round and win the series in five games. If we return to form and Devin is healthy, I will stick by that prediction. If not, it could be a longer series. Overall, at this point, I’ll go with winning in six.

Alex S: Suns in 5. This is *if* Booker is closer to 100% than 60%. If he’s limited, I still think Suns win in 6.

What’s your prediction?


Important Future Dates

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)