Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
Current Record: 43-35, 4th seed in the Western Conference
Offensive Rating: 114.5 (14th, —)
Defensive Rating: 112.2 (7th, ↓1)
Net Rating: +2.3 (9th, —)
4-0 in Week 24. Now that’s what I’m talking about.
You want to be playing your basketball best in April, not March. A season ago we experienced that: a team that perhaps peaked too early. They had nothing to play for in the final month of the season, up by 8 games in the Western Conference, and subsequently they lost their edge.
It was similar to what the Phoenix Suns did on Friday night against the Denver Nuggets. Denver started their ‘C’ squad and the Suns were up by 20 at halftime. But when focus is not present and precision is not there due to the belief that “everything is in hand”, you allow the opposition to sneak in the side the door. Phoenix ultimately won the game, but it was a reminder that being engaged is a valuable tool, whether it be in the game or during the season.
Phoenix has now won five consecutive games and Week 24 saw them go 4-0. Again, peeking at the right time of the season.
The return of Kevin Durant to the lineup on Wednesday against the Wolves hasn’t just been seamless, it’s been historic.
A HISTORIC DUO IN THE DESERT ️— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) April 1, 2023
Book & KD have combined for the most points by a duo in their first five games as teammates since 1962-63! pic.twitter.com/af174fZ83N
Phoenix is developing a one-two punch that is devastating to cover.
Durant is averaging 26.8 points-per-game since his arrival, doing so on 60/52/89 splits. Booker is averaging 30.1 pointer-per-game since the KD trade on February 9, and his splits are 53/36/85. Combined, that’s 56.9 points from the Phoenix duo, which puts them in rarified air.
In a Fadeaway World article from 2020, they ranked the Top 10 Scoring Duos in NBA History. The 2000-01 Lakers’ duo of Shaq and Kobe ranked second (they were making the point that Harden and Russell may be number one based on statistics), and the championship one-two punch averaged 57.2 points-per-game.
Again, Durant and Booker are at 56.9 points. If it wasn’t for their combined 57 points against Denver, the 100 total points scored by Phoenix would not have been enough.
KD has been a revelation, unlocking everyone around him. His spacing on the floor. His connectivity. His gravity. Everybody’s benefiting. Devin Booker scored zero points and had zero field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter of the Suns win on Sunday afternoon against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Because Kevin Durant scored 13 points, Chris Paul scored eight, and the other Ayton scored six. Because the historic duo affects everyone on the court. Booker doesn’t have to be Devi
Player of the Week
27.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists
53.7 FG%, 50.0 3PT%, 88.9 FT%
Three games played, three wins for Phoenix. Well, make that six games played since joining the Suns, six wins.
I’ve always been a Durant fan from afar, admiring his game and his work ethic. When you get to see it night after night, you notice the intricacies, that make him so effective. He can play physical on the block, he navigates double-teams like an artist, his shot is silky smooth, and his passing is underrated.
Just enjoy the highlights, my friends.
Phoenix Suns @ Utah Jazz (W, 117-103) RECAP
Phoenix Suns @ Oklahoma City Thunder (W, 128-118) RECAP
Highlights/Post Game Podcasts
SUNS at JAZZ | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 27, 2023:
442. Suns (40-35) @ Jazz Post Game Pod with Gavin from ASFP:
TIMBERWOLVES at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 29, 2023:
443. Suns (41-35) vs. Wolves Post Game Pod with Coach Evan B:
NUGGETS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 31, 2023:
444. Suns (42-35) vs. Nuggets Post Game Pod with Suns Geek:
SUNS at THUNDER | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | April 2, 2023:
445. Suns (43-35) @ Thunder Post Game Pod:
News & Notes
The Athletic: Kevin Durant unplugged: On his return to action with the Suns, his legacy, his Nets exit and more
AZ Central: ‘It’s OK’: Monty Williams encourages Kevin Durant during rare off night
The Sports Rush: “Damn It Charles Barkley, You Haven’t Won A Title!”: Kendrick Perkins Defends Kevin Durant From Chuck’s ‘Malicious Attacks’
Larry Brown Sports: NBA fines Rudy Gobert over officiating rant
Burn City Sports: NBA to implement mid-season tournament
Fan Nation: Suns Guaranteed Minimum of Play-in Tournament Spot
Quotes of the Week
“You should see my armpits during a game.” — Monty Williams
“The competitive fire came out of me.” — Josh Okogie
“Everybody needs encouragement.” — Monty Williams
“He’s good. You know his name.” — Devin Booker
“He’s just starting to get a rhythm.” — Monty Williams
“Felt like I was a rookie last game.” — Kevin Durant
“We just got complacent, got relaxed.” — Devin Booker
“We took a few steps in the right direction.” — Deandre Ayton
“He did a lot for this organization.” — Booker on KD being booed in OKC
“I understand it. I meant so much to this community and just for me to leave like that. Early on, I didn’t get it.” — Kevin Durant
Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton on the court together during Week 24. Book and KD were a +9. Terrence Ross and Torrey Craig were the worst duo at a -14.
Injury Status Report
Nothing to be reported. For the first time all season, all contract players were available for the last two games of this past week.
This Week in Suns History
April 6, 1993
We’ve been celebrating the 30 year anniversary of the 1992-93 Phoenix Suns throughout the season, so why not cap it off with a moment from that miraculous run?
We all know how we feel about the Los Angeles Lakers. Phoenix is a city that lives in the shadow of the West Coast giant, and before Jerry Colangelo brought a team to the Valley, Phoenix was his wide spot in the road on the way to the City of Angels.
Perhaps it’s always been a little brother complex – something I would know nothing about (I have three little brothers) –but there’s a sense of inferiority that does exist when you compare the two franchises. Especially considering the success and Hall of Fame list of players who have decided to call themselves a Laker.
In 1993, “Showtime” was over. Phoenix was on the rise, and entering April 6, 1993, the Suns had defeated the Lakers in all four meetings that season. With Byron Scott, Elden Campbell, A.C. Green, and Vlade Divac – with James Worthy coming off the bench – the Lakers were still a formidable foe. They entered the game 34-36, while the 55-15 Suns were on a seven-game winning streak.
Phoenix went up early, dropping 44 points on the Lakers in the first quarter. The Suns were +6 over the next two quarters as well, entering the fourth up 98-83. But a furious fourth quarter, outsiring Phoenix 31-14, put the Lakers in a position to be up two points in the final seconds of the game.
Enter Thunder Dan.
Dan Majerle had 17 points, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc in the game. HE was called upon to take a miracle shot. And he did. He received the ball on the inbound, turned, and hit a 33-foot three-point shot that won the game for Phoenix.
It was the first time in the history of the franchise that the Suns had swept the Lakers 5-0 in their season series.
We all know what happened against the Lakers in that playoff run. The Lakers won the first two games of the best-of-five, and the Suns will have to come all the way back to beat them in dramatic OT fashion en route to their second NBA Finals appearance.
Tuesday, April 4 — Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs
Thursday, April 6 — Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets
Friday, April 7 — Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Lakers
Sunday, April 9 — Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Let’s put a bow on this regular season already, eh? Let’s get to the postseason. In order to do that, the Suns have to navigate their final four games, three of which are at home.
The final week of the regular season will see Phoenix play against one team that is already out, one team that is all but locked in the first seed, and two teams from Los Angeles who are fighting to avoid the play-in tournament. It’ll be an interesting strategy that we see against Phoenix throughout the week.
When it comes to the 20-58 Spurs, they are simply out there trying to evaluate talent and understand what they have as they prepare for the 2023 NBA Draft. They’ve won 6 games since the All-Star Break and have a list of questionable players longer than the Tik Tok bill.
The Nuggets? They potentially could be a second round opponent of the Suns, and most likely won’t want to tip their hand in any way, shape, or form. This is most likely why we didn’t see four of their five starters play against the Suns when they played last Friday. With their win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night – without Jokic – they sit comfortably with a three game lead over the Memphis Grizzlies with four games to play.
Here is where it gets interesting.
The Lakers, based on where they sit positionally when the Phoenix Suns play them on Friday, could be the toughest opponent of the week. They’re currently seventh in the Western Conference, a half-game behind the Clippers and Warriors. Who knows where they’ll be on Friday.
If there’s an opportunity for them to play for something more than seeding, they will be. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are back, and I’ve never seen a team get the whistle like they do. The NBA needs the Lakers to be relevant.
As for the last game of the season? The Clippers could be a first round opponent. They could be fighting to play the Suns in the first round or purposefully losing so they can play the Sacramento Kings or Grizzlies. We won’t know what to expect until we get there.
We all will wait with bated breath to watch the final week of the season as so much is still left up in the air. What’s not in the air? The Suns currently have a 97% chance to end up with a fourth seed.
Suns currently have a 97% chance of e ding the season as the 4th seed in the Western Conference— John Voita (@DarthVoita) April 3, 2023
Weekly Prediction: 3-1
Not sure where, but the Suns will lose one this week. And that could be a good thing. Iron sharpens iron, and a loss with Booker and Durant will do just that.
Last week of the season! What will the Suns final record be?
This poll is closed
Bringing it Home
Do you know what it’s taking me an entire season to figure out? My intro and my outro for Center of the Sun could be two articles unto themselves. I’ve been cannibalizing my own damn content all season long, putting together 3,000 word articles in this format, rather than breaking it up in two and making it more consumable for you, the reader.
I thank everyone who has been reading this column for the entire season, my first authoring it. It’s been a learning process. How to allocate my time. How to find the right information to put forth to you. How to put my voice out there in a way that flows through the entire context of a weekly recap. I’ve learned a lot this season, and I’m hoping to be more concise next year.
We’ve entered the endgame. The final week of the season lies before us.
There’s no better time to be at full strength, that’s where the Phoenix Suns find themselves. This season has seen countless bumps and bruises, peaks and valleys, trials, and tribulations. But as a team prepares for its final quest, one that hopefully brings Larry O’Brien to Phoenix, they’re entering with a clean bill of health.
It’s like The Avengers: Endgame.
Suns fans. Assemble.