With just 11 games left in this 72-game season, the Phoenix Suns are both second in the West, as well as in the NBA, at 43-18.
Since the halfway mark check-in I wrote, in 23 games, they’ve faired extremely well. Having gone 17-6, they’ve staved off the Los Angeles Clippers (Suns are 1 game ahead; LAC holds tie-breaker) who’ve been on their heels for the past month, and kept pace with the league-best Utah Jazz (Suns are 1 game behind; hold tie-breaker).
Top Players Getting the Job Done
We saw Chris Paul continue to rake in the accolades, ascending into the top-5 in both assists as well as steals. That’s a claim that only he, Stockton, and Kidd can claim. Side note: Chris has done so while both averaging more points on his career and scoring more points than either in total.
We’ve also seen him come up with big-time baskets, no different than he’s done his entire career.
We also saw Booker go for 30+ in eight games.
Including one for 45 vs the Bulls 🔥
They had notable wins over the likes of the Lakers, Heat twice (home and away), Utah, @ Milwaukee, @ Philadelphia, and @ New York as well as a 7-game win-streak spanning from the end of March to early April.
This most recent 5-game road trip was a one of the last remaining tests for this Suns squad, based on the level of competition (vs four of the top six teams in the East) as well as the succession of the slated games (three total off days, two back to backs).
- 4.19.21 – W @ Milwaukee 128-127
- 4.21.21 – W @ Philadelphia 116-113
- 4.22.21 – L @ Boston 86-99
- 4.25.21 – L @ Brooklyn 119-128
- 4.26.21 – W @ New York 118-110
For a regular 82-game season their current pace would garner them 56 wins. That would be their most wins since 2006-2007.
They currently rank:
- 7th in offense (116.6)
- 3rd in efficiency differential (+6.2)
- 5th in eFG% (56.6)
- 6th in taking care of the ball
- 5th in defense (110.5)
- 6th in defensive eFG% (53.3)
- 4th in net rating (+6.0)
The Suns have the 7th remaining toughest schedule, according to Tankathon.
In that, immediately following the East coast gauntlet of a road trip that they are returning home from, remains two direct chances for impact on the ranks of the league.
Their next two games, playing host tonight vs the Clippers then Friday vs Utah.
Should they win vs the Clippers, they give themselves more breathing room while also sending a message to their, as presently constructed, odds-on second round opponent. Should the Suns not ascend to first, winning here and being able to keep a hold of the 2nd seed would allow for them to have home court advantage should the two meet in round two, which means the world to their young roster as the home-road splits are, predictably so, in favor of the Young guns performing at home.
Should they then win vs the Jazz, it would give them the season sweep as well as claiming of the best record in the West and the NBA. A team that they, potentially, could see come the Conference Finals, this would be a huge accomplishment to have under their belts. Though more often than not, veteraned experience outweighs youth come playoffs, familiarity could certainly help in favor of the Suns here.
Past the next two games
I expect to see rest posed as players who have logged high minute totals while having not missed many games (namely Chris Paul and Mikal Bridges) to be either restricted in minutes or given complete nights off should they position themselves well enough to warrant doing so.
Coach of the Year?
Monty Williams was my personal coach of the year pick.
His name has been in the conversation all season, and, should the Suns usurp the Jazz and finish the season with the best record in the West as well as in the NBA, that would almost surely make him a shoe-in for Coach of the Year.
When you factor in this leap to ascension after the Suns missed the playoffs for the past decade, coupled with a double-digit jump in wins from last season to this season, it makes his resume more and more fitting.
Remaining Prediction 👀📈
It remains to be seen, but I believe the Suns will continue to stay sharp through the finish line, and finish the season with the 1st seed in the West and the best record in the NBA.
They are clicking at one of the most apt junctures of the season, and continue to enjoy relatively solid health as a collective.
In one of the biggest games of the week, the Suns host the Clippers tonight at 9pm CST on ESPN.
Let’s see if they have that one final push in them to do the unthinkable in this regular season 👀.
*All stats come directly from basketball-reference or cleaningtheglass unless stated otherwise, and are accurate entering play on 4.28*