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. This week, we’re giving our takes on the Suns’ upcoming playoff series with the Denver Nuggets.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - What’s your prediction for the Suns’ 1st round series with the Nuggets?
GuarGuar: I got the Suns over the Nuggets in 6 this series. I don’t think Denver will deny KD the ball nearly as much as the Clippers did. I think this will be KD’s breakout series and he will be dominant throughout. Ayton did a good job last time on Jokic in the playoffs but this is a whole new series. I think we match up pretty well with them. I got the Suns advancing to the WCF.
OldAz: The Nuggets have a really good team and they are healthy, but I think the Suns match up really well. DA cannot stop Jokic but he makes Jokic work harder at both ends than most other opponents. KD and Book are clearly better than Gordon and Murray, but that leaves CP3 against a vastly improved MPJ. If the Suns punch them in the nose (metaphorically) in game 1 then I could see this being a short series. However, I respect the process too much to predict the Suns in less than 6, so that’s what I will go with.
Rod: I’m expecting the series to go 6 or 7 games. If the Suns can steal a win in Denver in one of the first two games, it might be enough to get a series win in just 5 but I doubt it. Denver has a really good squad though and I think this series could be tipped either way by the refs. Any game in which a team gets one (or more) of it’s top players in foul trouble early would give a hefty advantage to the other and that could be the deciding factor in any given game.
Q2 - The Suns’ bench hasn’t contributed much so far. Why do you think this has been so?
GuarGuar: Well they haven’t played many minutes to begin with. We had Book and KD playing nearly 45 minutes a game vs the Clippers. I don’t know why Monty keeps going with Shamet. He has shown absolutely nothing all year and in our first series. He should be benched in favor of Lee or Ross or TJ. Biz has been fine but when teams go to that Hack-a-Biz strategy it’s hard to watch. I still prefer Jock when we need offense. Maybe Payne can help keep Chris from playing super high minutes this series. We will see.
OldAz: Because Payne has been hurt. That’s the whole story. The Suns bench should really be 3 players deep (Payne, Biz, Okogie/Craig with limited spot minutes for one of Lee, Ross or Shamet). Okogie and Biz have been great so far and Payne has been hurt. That’s a pretty important third of the usable bench.
Rod: Two things come quickly to mind, first is that almost no one is getting enough court time to get into a rhythm offensively. Second is that many of the bench players have seemed ‘gun-shy’ when they do get minutes and look to pass before looking to score. I’ve seen players too often look for someone to pass to before looking at the basket even when they have no defender in close proximity. I’d really like to see some more aggressive play from some of these guys and I wouldn’t be surprised if Monty doesn’t feel the same way.
Q3 - The Suns’ starters played heavy minutes during the series with the Clippers. Should Monty continue with this strategy in games in Denver’s high altitude/thin air?
GuarGuar: I think it’s going to depend on each game individually. Most of those Clippers games we were down near double digits every first half so he kept Book and KD in to avoid a huge deficit. If we jump out to a decent lead on Denver early I can see Monty resting our stars more than last series.
OldAz: Absolutely. Among the big 4, the Suns have learned to get “rest” for each of CP3, Book and KD while still being on the court. Each takes turns for minutes at a time where they play defense and then hang out at the 3 point line on offense. The one exception is DA because he is always active in the offensive motion with at least one of the other 3. That (IMO) is why Monty keeps his minutes down in the 32-36 range while KD and Book have shown no ill effects from playing around 43-44 per game. They are finding 3-4 minutes each half where they are engaged but not nearly as active.
Rod: I’d say that at this point they pretty much have to unless someone off the bench comes in and suddenly gets hot right from the start. The altitude in Denver might take a bit of a toll but these guys are all in excellent physical condition so I don’t expect it to be a huge factor. The guy I’m most worried about is CP3 so I’m hoping that Cam Payne gets fully healed up before this series begins and can give CP3 a little more time to rest during the game.
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, “The Suns/Clips 1st round series final results will be...”
09% - Suns win in 4 games.
37% - Suns win in 5 games.
33% - Suns win in 6 games.
03% - Suns win in 7 games.
18% - Suns lose.
A total of 565 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
The Suns/Nuggets 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.