Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
Each week the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders - give their takes on the Suns’ latest issues and news.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - What’s your prediction for the Suns’ 1st round series with the Clippers?
OldAz: Every series has its own life, and the Clippers are a good and deep team. Add to that that they have an excellent coach when it comes to game strategy. They also really bolstered their bench at the deadline (at the time, I really wanted Powell to sign with the Suns instead of Ross). If PG were fully back and healthy, I could see this series going 7. I believe the Suns will win in 5 games but would not be surprised if it goes 6.
Ethan: I’m going with Suns in 6. I also never have enough to confidence to say Suns in 4 or 5, so Suns in 6 is about as confident as I can be. The injuries the Clips are dealing with will be tough to overcome, but I’m giving them two wins just because of Kawhi. Star power gives them a little benefit of the doubt. The Suns are also still in the early days of figuring out life with KD, so I’m going to give them a couple losses as they get things sorted in their first REAL meaningful games.
Rod: At best I think the Suns win it in 5 but I believe that it could go to 6 games. The Clips have a very good team and if they weren’t going into this series a bit banged up I’d probably call it a bit closer. You know Kawhi will have some good games and Westbrook is likely to have at least one really good game where he doesn’t try to do too much.
Q2 - Some teams cut their playoff player rotation down to as few as 7-8 players. Do you think the Suns might do this and who would be your top choices for the 6th, 7th and 8th rotation spots?
OldAz: I don’t see Monty doing this. Based on recent weeks it is easy to see Ish, Jock, D.Lee and Bazley not playing unless it’s a blowout. Thus, if Monty did go down to 8 players the extra 3 players would have to include Payne and Biz, so that means he would only be playing 1 of Craig, TJ, Ross, and Shamet. I don’t see that happening as all have some value depending on the situation. I could see him narrowing down the regular rotation as small as 9 with the starters and then Payne, Biz, Craig and TJ relegating Ross and Shamet to spot minutes depending on effectiveness and foul trouble.
Ethan: I feel VERY strongly that the Suns won’t have a cut down playoff rotation. We’ve been talking about it on our podcast for awhile, but it really seems like this will be a “bench by committee” approach. Craig vs. Okogie will be a big matchup based decision in moments. Jock vs. Biz will be the same. Ish vs. Landry vs. Ross vs. TJ vs. whomever will be dependent on who’s “on” that night. I don’t think it’ll be crazy to see 10-11 guys in the mix throughout the series (first round and hopefully beyond).
Rod: I really don’t see Monty doing this. At most he might try to go with a 9-man rotation. Cam Payne, Torrey Craig, Bismack Biyombo and Terrance Ross will certainly get minutes off the bench and we might even see a little of Landry Shamet mixed in on occasions. And who Monty might put into the game will likely depend on whether he wants extra offense or defense on the court. The solid depth that the Suns have makes it kind of foolish to try and cut the rotation down too much.
Q3 - Other than a series win, what do you most want to see during the Suns/Clippers games?
OldAz: I want to see 2 things. First, I want them stay committed to solid team defense. When the Suns focus on the defensive end everything else falls into place. When they get lazy on defense everything tends to fall apart.
Second, I want them to stay true to the offensive principles we have seen in the 8 games KD has played. This means taking whatever the defense gives the,. Let the other team decide who is going to score. ISO ball with KD or Book is perfectly OK in this scenario if they are spacing the floor and the opponent is basically playing those guys 1:1. As soon as they blitz or send extra defenders, the Suns have to move the ball and find the best shot. One of CP3, DA, or Okogie will be wide open.
Analysis and highlights of the games with KD have basically been a clinic in “Kobayashi Maru” scenarios where the defense simply has no good options. As long as the Suns lean into those sets and Book (or theoretically KD) doesn’t try to consistently attack double and triple teams by himself the Suns will be extremely hard to beat.
Ethan: I want to see Chris Paul not have to do too much. For a Finals run, the Suns will need Chris to duplicate his regular season strategy of “let’s not burn up too much gas so there’s plenty in the tank when it matters”. My close second answer is to see DA play CONFIDENT and DECISIVE basketball on both ends of the floor. I really think he’ll be the difference maker in lots of playoffs games, as the gap between his floor and ceiling is much larger than that of Book, KD or CP.
Rod: Focus, focus, FOCUS! Sharp, clean passes. Sloppy/lazy passing leads to turnovers and fastbreak points for the other team and the Suns can’t afford to gift the Clips too many of those opportunities. No one resting on D. 100% effort on every play on both ends of the court. The Suns have the talent to win this series but they’ve got to play smart. Unless fouls or injuries come into play, Monty also needs to keep at least two starters on the court at all times when he starts subbing in people. Our bench looked really good in the last two games but I’m still not sold on them being able to play that well together all of the time.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members for all their extra effort this week!
Last Week’s poll results
Last week’s question was, “Who do you believe would be the toughest 1st round playoff matchup for the Suns?”
06% - LA Clippers.
26% - LA Lakers.
05% - New Orleans Pelicans.
63% - Golden State Warriors.
A total of 654 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
The Suns/Clips 1st round series final results will be...
This poll is closed
Suns win in 4 games.
Suns win in 5 games.
Suns win in 6 games.
Suns win in 7 games.