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 welcome the Suns Geek back for another guest appearance at the table!
As the Suns have now clinched the 4th seed for the playoffs, the only question remaining is who their 1st round opponent will be.
Graphic courtesy of PlayoffStatus.com .
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - Odds are that the Suns will retain the 4th seed (97% chance) and will face either the Clippers (43% chance), the Lakers (21% chance), the Pelicans (21% chance) or the Warriors (14% chance) in the 1st round of the playoffs. Which team do you think would be the toughest matchup for the Suns?
Author’s Note: The odds listed in the question above are from before last night’s games were played.
GuarGuar: I think the Warriors or Lakers would be the hardest matchup for us. Golden state has a ton of firepower and our history of guarding star guard players is not good at all. We love to play drop coverage and Steph/Klay/Poole would abuse that.
LA has a lot of length and size and that causes us issues sometimes. They match up well with us and would be looking for revenge for 2021.
I still think we beat both teams but they would be challenging series.
OldAz: You can never discount the Warriors as they have been there before and their outside shooting can get unreal at times. That said, if the Lakers end up in 5th they will be on a major extended roll and be healthy going in. The team they put together at the deadline is a lot more balanced and complete and compliments Lebron and AD well. Add in the LA factor and the likely favorable whistle they get and I would rather the Suns avoid that circus in the first round, but currently expect that is who it will be.
Ethan: I think the toughest matchup for the Suns would be the Warriors. Honestly, out of those 4 teams, the Warriors would be the toughest matchup for anyone I think. Paul George still has no real timetable to return, the Pelicans and Lakers are getting hot at the right time but don’t necessarily instill fear into my soul... and the Warriors have Wardell Stephen Curry II. It’ll be interesting to see how the West plays out, because I think every team in that group would rather play the Kings than the Suns. BUT it’s a tight rope act to lose out of the 5 seed without dropping to the 7 seed and the play-in tournament.
Suns Geek: I believe no matter who we play in the 1st round that it will not be easy. Even with KD because the NBA is arguably the most talented we have seen in years, great offense trounces great defense and it’s hard to win in the league.
I would want to play the Clippers or the Lakers in the first round. When Kawhi and PG13 are healthy they make the Clippers one of the best teams in the league, and the Clippers do have a deep roster but I believe we could beat them in 6 games if not less and that would be a good challenge to overcome for the rest of the playoffs. I also want the Lakers because even if they have LeBron and AD it would be sweet to send them home in the first round. Any of the 4 teams you mentioned will not be easy but I believe the Suns can win.
Side note: NBA finals or bust. Assuming we stay healthy we have to at least reach the finals.
Rod: Lol, even though I’m the one who came up with this question, I’m having a very difficult time coming up with an answer to it. I can come up with lot of reasons why each of them could be difficult to beat in a 7-game series but nothing that I consider makes any of them a much more difficult matchup than the others.
With that said, I’m going to choose the Warriors though, simply because I just heard that they will be getting Andrew Wiggins back shortly before the playoffs begin. I don’t know if he will be in game shape or how in sync he’ll be with the rest of the team after being away for so long but his return adds an X-factor that might significantly elevate the Warriors’ level of play.
Q2 - The Book/KD pairing could prove to be the best duo in Suns history. Which previous Suns duo do you consider to be the best up until now?
GuarGuar: I consider Nash and Amare as the best duo in our history. Both were superstars at their position and revolutionized the game. I think when it’s all said and done though Book and KD will be viewed as #1.
OldAz: Many will say KJ and Barkley, but my recollection is that those were years that KJ really took a step back in order to feature Barkley. For me, it is really close between KJ/Chambers and Nash/Amare. Both combos were at the peak of their careers and ushered in some really fun basketball. Also, both pairs were highly complimentary in their games and just fit so well together.
Ethan: I’m not old enough to remember the Barkley days or any before that, but I am young enough to use the internet. Here are some Suns duos (and one trio) with the highest All-NBA finishes in the same year:
- 1977-1978: Paul Westphal (2nd Team), Walter Davis (2nd Team)
- 1978-1979: Paul Westphal (1st Team), Walter Davis (2nd Team)
- 1988-89, 89-90: Tom Chambers (2nd Team), Kevin Johnson (2nd Team)
- 1993-1994: Charles Barkley (2nd Team), Kevin Johnson (2nd Team)
- 2004-2005: Steve Nash (1st Team), Amar’e Stoudamire (2nd Team), Shawn Marion (3rd Team)
- 2005-2006: Steve Nash (1st Team), Shawn Marion (3rd Team) (**Stoudamire out due to injury)**)
- 2006-2007: Steve Nash (1st Team), Amar’e Stoudamire (1st Team)
- 2007-2008: Steve Nash (2nd Team), Amar’e Stoudamire (2nd Team)
- 2009-2010: Steve Nash (2nd Team), Amar’e Stoudamire (2nd Team)
- 2021-2022: Devin Booker (1st Team), Chris Paul (3rd Team)
I think it’s hard to argue against Nash and Stoudamire due to the longevity of their run and their ability to both have such success within the same system.
Suns Geek: The popular answer here I assume will be Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire and that answer is most likely the correct choice but the Suns have had some incredible duos and legends over the years. I wish I knew the number of games these duos played but this question takes me all the way back to Dick Van Arsdale and Connie Hawkins. Paul Westphal and Alvan Adams, (or Alvan Adams and Walter Davis) KJ, and Barkley, and probably more great Suns duos that I am forgetting about. I appreciate this question because it reminded me how many great players the Suns have had in the team’s history.
Rod: I’m a little torn between choosing Nash and Stoudamire or KJ and Barkley but I’m going with the latter. It’s close though and during their time together both duos played with some other great players which also elevated their games. Nash and Stat of course had Shawn Marion, Grant Hill, Joe Johnson, Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw. KJ and Barkley had Dan Majerle, Tom Chambers, Richard Dumas, Danny Manning, Cedric Ceballos and AC Green. There were certainly also other great duos in Suns history but when you look at it primarily in terms of scoring I think Book and KD will eventually be remembered as the best.
And I’ve got to give a shoutout to the Suns first dynamic duo, Dick Van Arsdale and Gail Goodrich who both averaged over 20 ppg during the Suns’ inaugural season (1968-69) back in the era before the three point shot.
Q3 - Other than “garbage time” should Monty ever have a lineup devoid of starters on the court?
GuarGuar: Monty absolutely needs to get away from the all bench lineups. You need to have at least 1 of Book/KD on the floor at all times. You have two top 10 players and you need to maximize their value. The all bench lineups have killed our momentum so many times this season. I honestly think come playoff time you need at least 2 of our big 4 (DA, Book, KD, Chris) out there at all times. Having only 1 out there is probably not optimal.
OldAz: Nope. In fact, as the playoffs approach I think there should usually be at least 2 starters on the floor in some combination. If in a non-garbage time playoff game you are going to play the big 4 36-38 minutes, that only leaves 10-12 minutes at each position to fill. Usually it will be either a book or KD with a bench unit, but CP3 and DA with 3 shooters also works to get some bench minutes when you want to maximize the time KD and a Book are on the court together. There is just no reason when dealing with that few minutes not to provide some leadership and stability with the bench unit at this time of year.
Ethan: No, and definitely come playoff time. And I’ll add a caveat to this: The Suns should always have one of their 4 LEGIT starters on the court. No offense to Okogie, but he doesn’t provide the confidence or stability that an Ayton, Book, KD or CP3 can bring. I think Monty will continue with a “bench by committee” approach, but there will always be one “stabilizer” out on the court.
Suns Geek: I think it depends on the matchups and who we are playing. At the time of this fan table question, Kevin Durant has played 6 games and we have seen KD out there with a good chunk of our bench which I am a fan of. I think Monty has to figure out who his 9 or 10 guys are before the playoffs start and keep it that way. This also includes who our 5th starter is. Is Josh Okogie the safe answer for that? I believe we need one of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, or Kevin Durant on the court at all times and when one or two of those guys are on the bench we need to win those minutes.
Rod: No. The only possible exception I can think of is if multiple starters are in foul trouble and even then it should be for as shot a period of time as possible. The Suns have some very good players on the bench but they also have way too many new players on the team in general for the bench unit to have developed any real chemistry as a unit. On some nights, I think they might be able to hold their own offensively but I really worry about how they would do on the defensive side.
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, “With everyone healthy, what will the Suns’ record for their final 7 games be?”
15.0% - 7-0.
43.5% - 6-1.
35.8% - 5-2.
05.7% - 4-3 or worse.
A total of 402 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Who do you believe would be the toughest 1st round playoff matchup for the Suns?
This poll is closed
New Orleans Pelicans.
Golden State Warriors.