It was the second night of a back-to-back for the Los Angeles Clippers, just as it was for the Phoenix Suns. Los Angeles was mostly at full strength, and so were the Suns. Monday’s blowout loss against the Clippers proved that Phoenix has some work to do to compete with some of the league’s best teams.
The Clippers’ recent success and early struggles when trading for James Harden exemplify how the Suns need their stars together on the court to improve and that their early struggles together are necessary.
To start both halves, Phoenix remained competitive, but in the second and especially the fourth quarter, the Suns got exposed for being a team that needs more time to gel together.
They lost the fourth quarter, 37-20.
The lack of a true point guard continues to be an issue for the Valley. Sometimes, on offense, it looks like a game of hot potato. At least there is a lot more film for the team to determine what needs to be changed and what should remain the same.
The healthier the team gets, the more we will learn about the squad. Whether we will learn more good or bad things remains to be seen, but James Harden has already played 31 games with the Clippers, which is one of the reasons why they have been able to hit a stride as of late. Bradley Beal hasn’t played even half that yet for Phoenix, and his longest streak without missing a game this season is currently seven.
The Clippers’ stars know their roles now and how to play off each other. They did not initially, which resulted in the Clippers losing Harden’s first five games with the team. Ever since, they are 20-6, tying the Boston Celtics for the best record in the NBA for a team’s last 26 games. To go along with Harden’s consistent availability, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have been exceptionally healthy this season, making their tough times more manageable because there is continuity during it.
While the Clippers and Suns are not super similar rosters, they are teams extremely dependent on their star’s ability, availability, and togetherness. Monday’s contest is a perfect example of how one team is further along in their teamwork building than the other.
More games with Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant, and Devin Booker will tell us if Phoenix has a proficient lead ball-handler. More games will show who has the most open looks late in games. More games with Phoenix’s Big 3 playing will show what exactly this Suns team is made of when they are clicking at all cylinders.
As we reach the halfway point of the season, the Suns’ margin of error shrinks for them to figure out their team. The winning started for the Clippers when the chemistry between their stars began to take off.