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Center of the Sun: The Core Four, the Clippers, and the 82-game season

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

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Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Current Record: 45-37, 4th seed in the Western Conference

Offensive Rating: 114.5 (14th, —)

Defensive Rating: 112.3 (7th, —)

Net Rating: +2.2 (9th, —)

The marathon is over. Like a 26.2 mile slow jog, we find ourselves gasping for air as the finish line has been crossed. That’s how the season felt, long and arduous, as the Phoenix Suns have scraped their shoes over the gravel of the road. This past week was the final gasp and that’s how the Suns approached their final four games of the season.

Week 25, the final week of the regular season, witnessed the Suns going 2-2. The two wins? They played their starters against the San Antonio Spurs and the Denver Nuggets. The two losses? Both occurring against the Los Angeles teams, Phoenix sat their core players as they rested and waited for the postseason to begin.

The argument in favor of playing the core in an effort to log more minutes to increase on-court chemistry was moot. Phoenix locked up the fourth seed before their win against the Nuggets, so there was truly no need for the extra reps.

The core four of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Deandre Ayton have logged 159 minutes together this season. Their +62 is the fourth best of four-man lineups this season for Phoenix.

Translation? They’ll be fine.

Player of the Week

Monty Williams

Yeah, I know it says “player”, but I believe Coach Monty did a quality job this week balanced the roster in the final week of the season. It’s not easy trying to prime your roster for the postseason whilst simultaneously trying to rest key players.

Phoenix clinched the fourth spot and Monty sat his guys. Smart.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs (W, 115-96) RECAP

Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets (W, 119-115) RECAP

Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Lakers (L, 121-107) RECAP

Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers (L, 119-114) RECAP

Highlights/Post Game Podcasts


446. Suns (44-35) vs. Spurs Post Game Pod:


447. Suns (45-35) vs. Nuggets Post Game Pod with Suns Geek:


448. Suns (45-36) @ Lakers Post Game Pod with the JAMsters:


449. Suns (45-37) vs. Clippers Post Game Pod:

News & Notes

Arizona Sports: Who is the Suns’ most difficult possible playoff matchup in 1st round?

Burn City Sports: Kevin Durant Gives Interesting Insight On How NBA Players Fear Opponents Appropriately

AZ Central: Phoenix Suns honoring Al McCoy’s retirement for 51 seasons as ‘Voice of The Suns’

Hoops Hype: Kevin Durant on 1980s and 1990s’ NBA: It seemed more physical because they got away with a lot of flagrant fouls

Arizona Sports: Devin Booker presents young card-collecting fan with jersey before game at Lakers

Clutch Points: Suns star Kevin Durant throws shade at NBA’s new controversial 65-game rule

Sports Keeda: NBA Rumors: Dallas Mavericks interested in Phoenix Suns star

Quotes of the Week

“It’s real important for us to come out, find that flow, push the pace and defend at a high level.” — Devin Booker

“At one point I broke my nose three times in 18 months.” — Torrey Craig

“It feels good to know my head coach and our staff trust me.” — Landry Shamet

“Weird game.” — Chris Paul after Nuggets game

“We’ve played 80-something games, We’ve logged in 1,000 minutes of film. If you a playoff coach and you’re not prepared for how we coming as a team I don’t think you should have that job.” - Kevin Durant

“Cam (Payne) is a good player. That’s never been a question for us.” — Monty Williams

“Guys just got to stay ready.” — Damion Lee

“The energy is good. We all know why we’re here.” — Josh Okogie

“We’ve been looking at this period of time for awhile.” — Monty Williams

Key Stat


That’s the final tally for the 2022-23 Phoenix Suns. When you look back at your preseason predictions, you have to ask yourself: Were my predictions as off as Dave King’s? Dave got 2.5 of his 13 first predictions correct.

Editor’s Note: Dave got at least 4 of them correct, with a couple still pending! — DK, Ed.

The 45-37 record, which comes out to a .549 winning percentage, is the 29th best finish in the 55 seasons the Suns have played. Only seven other Suns’ teams have had a worse record and made the postseason, the worst being the 36-46 1984-85 Suns.

The only other time the Suns had a worse record than 45-37 and entered as a higher seed? The Sunderella Suns of 1976. That team, who ended 42-42, who entered the postseason as a #4 seed, made a magical run to the 1976 NBA Finals.

This Week in Suns History

April 15, 1989

The Phoenix Suns currently have 10 players in the Ring of Honor, as well as five non-players.

On April 15, 1989, the Suns inducted just the fourth member of the franchise into the Ring of Honor. Paul Westphal, who would return to the franchise in a couple of seasons to guide them to their second NBA Finals appearance, was honored at halftime of the game against the Spurs for his efforts as a member of Phoenix Suns.

In his six seasons with Phoenix, Westy averaged 20.6 points and 2.5 assists. He was a four-time All-Star, named two one All-NBA Second Team, and three All-NBA First Teams. We was part of the 1976 team that made an NBA Finals appearance, where he 20.8 points and 4.8 assists.


It is sad that the interior of the Footprint Center has created the Ring of Honor in the digital format? Absolutely. Players like Paul Westphal should be honored for all to see whoever answers the arena, but with modern technology they have taken what was once permanent signage and digitized it.

Important Dates

Play-In Tournament:

Suns Playoff Schedule:

  • Game 1: Sunday, April 16, Time TBD

NBA Finals:

  • June 1

Upcoming Games

We have only one game to talk about for the Suns in the next week, and that is their first game of the First Round against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Suns and the Clippers do have a playoff history, although it isn’t an extensive one. In their 45 years of existence in California, not including their time as the Buffalo Braves, the Clippers have made the postseason 13 times. Nine of those occurrences have occurred in the past 12 seasons. That doesn’t exactly coincide with great runs of Suns basketball.

The matchup against Los Angeles marks just the third time these two Pacific Division rivals have locked horns in the postseason. The first was in the 2006 Western Conference Semifinals. Phoenix won in seven games, with a memorable shot by Raja Bell that sent Game 5 into Double OT.

Phoenix would win that pivotal game, lose Game 6, but ultimately emerge victorious in Game 7.

Two seasons ago, Phoenix defeated the Clippers in six game in the Western Conference Finals. The series win put the Suns in their third NBA Finals in franchise history.

Again, a memorable shot was made by Phoenix. ‘The Valley Oop’.

Game 1 is next Sunday, although we are not sure of the time as of yet. Plenty more to come on the series from Bright Side. Plenty more...

Bringing it Home

Alas, the marathon is over. And now the sprint to 16 begins.

Who can win 16 games first? Who can win the final game of the NBA season? While it might not feel like a sprint – the postseason lasts from April until June – that is indeed what it is. The first two rounds see teams playing every other night, taking them out of the rhythm that the regular season has instilled.

It’s strange, isn’t it? For 82 games, the season has its ebbs and flows. Back-to-backs, 10 days on the road, three days off here, two there. And then, when the season matters most, it changes. It’s like shooting a free throw all game long and then, when it’s clutch time, you’re forced to shoot it Ricky Barry grandma style. It’s the same, but different.

This is my primary case against 82 games. If the regular season began as it currently does in mid-October and lasted for 72 games, there would be more time for rest in between playoff games.

The Suns’ 72nd game this season was March 22 against the Lakers. 19 days ago. You spread that rest throughout the first and second round and who knows? Maybe the world would see the best version of your product when it matters that most, eh NBA? Let’s add a funky in-season tourney instead that doesn’t draw anyone to the game, just gives out an extra $500k to guys who make more in a season than I’ll make in a lifetime.

Regardless of the current format, let the postseason begin. Lace up your Nikes, Forrest. The season begins now.

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