Until the end of the fourth quarter on Wednesday night, it seems Phoenix Suns would reduce a bad loss to one Dallas Mavericks team without Luka Doncic. Chris Paul had an extremely difficult night of shooting (2 to 12 from the field, 0 to 6 from deep), and throughout the first half, the Sun could not afford a shot from 3-point territory, shooting 22.7%.
But Mikal . Bridge and Jae Crowder Starting to connect in their 3s, Paul scored 9 of his 14 assists in the second half, and the Suns stopped playing with their food to show that they were just too much for Luka -less Mavericks. The win is Phoenix’s 10th straight win, and after starting the 2021-22 campaign with a 1-3 record, the Suns look like they’ve settled into the season. Ahead of their next chance to extend their winning streak, let’s break down three observations that stand out from the Suns’ impressive streak.
One of the more surprising aspects of the Suns’ current winning streak is that they are doing it largely without Ayton, who has missed six games of the winning streak with a right foot injury. Although Ayton’s production tends to run hot and cold, oscillating between a dual machine and one who struggles to assert himself when offended, his presence in the paintwork on either end does not. may be underestimated.
It’s a problem the Sun has in NBA Final against Giannis Antetokounmpo, where Ayton proved to be the only Suns player who could play smart defensively against the reigning Finals MVP. When Ayton came on from the bench in the Finals, the Suns’ defensive stats jumped from 111.6 to 121.8, while their offense also dropped, scoring 8.3 points less. when the number 1 choice is ultimately not valid.
After the Finals, it was clear that Phoenix needed journey depth, especially after Dario Saric went down with an ACL tear in the post-season, which means he is likely to be sidelined for the entire 2021-22 season. 7 feet into the center JaVale McGee, who started in six games Ayton was out. During that time, McGee averaged 12 points, 7.5 rebounds and just over one block a game, marked by a three-block 19-point, 14-rebound performance in a grueling game. Houston Rockets, where the Sun had its eighth straight win.
McGee won’t give you production like Ayton will, and he certainly has…weird about him when he’s on the floor, but his ridiculous length would make stops like this:
Having someone of McGee’s caliber and athleticism on the roster gives Phoenix a big man in reserve who can not only replace Ayton when he’s injured, but also allows him to enjoy plenty of time. more time during the match when he was healthy. McGee has done enough of the right things throughout this winning streak, like deflecting and blocking shots, taking chances on strike glass and being a solid belt runner, that doesn’t make Ayton’s absence from those six games as detrimental as it could be. was against people like The town of Karl-Anthony, Clint Capela and Richaun Holmes.
2. Grinding out wins in the long run
Despite playing mainly against teams with a losing streak on this streak, only two of them have scored 15 points or more, with five of those being one-on-one wins. Most of the wins the Sun collects in this run have not been easy, forcing the team to stay until the final whistle. It has resulted in some really impressive clutch wins for the Sun, like their four-point win over Atlanta Hawks after dropping 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Until that time against the Hawk, Devin Booker was the only player to have anything happen, and like Phoenix’s win over the Mavericks, the Suns failed to hit the 3 points, connecting 29.4 percent over three quarters. Of note, the Suns’ 3-point scrambles in many of these games were not a case of the team failing to get any good looks, because more than 18% of Phoenix’s 3-pointers came without consequences. defend within six feet of the shooter. . The game just takes longer for the footage to start falling into the Sun, which is exactly what happened with the Hawks. Phoenix shot 44% from long range in the fourth inning, and several locked defenses on the other end of the floor helped Atlanta slow down, leading to another win for the Suns.
Winning in tight matches is one of the biggest fundamental factors to the Suns’ success in this tournament. So far this season, Phoenix has the second-highest win rate in clutch situations, with a record of 6-1, and is ahead of the 64-31 opponent in those six wins.
“Following our experience and last year’s playoffs, we pay attention to the details,” Booker said after the Suns’ latest clutch win over the Mavericks on Wednesday. “What’s every game we’re preparing for the next level, and that’s the post-season period. Every game counts and we’ve always said we’re not playing against our opponents, we’re not playing against our opponents. I’m playing with myself and taking responsibility for each other. It’s working well for us, but we still have room to grow.”
You can tell that Phoenix’s playoff experience has affected this team because if it weren’t for last season’s success, the Suns might not have won some of the games that turned out badly like this. That “attention to detail” Booker talks about is what matters late in the game, and after playing on the biggest stage a season ago, the Suns are proving they’ve transferred what they’ve learned from the experience. that experience this season.
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3. Rely on self-defense when the offense stops
Another aspect that goes hand in hand with the clutch wins the Suns are developing is their stingy defense. In the current 4 games in a row, they have kept their opponents under 100 points, something that even if the attack has dropped across the league this season has never happened in an era of high-scoring games like this. now. In their winning streak, Phoenix has the second best defensive rating (98.8) behind Golden Empire Warriors.
After eliminating the Rockets, where the Suns drew Houston by just 89 points, coach Monty Williams addressed the team’s defensive philosophy.
“I think the defense once again allowed us to have the cushioning we needed even when we were quiet in the second half,” Williams said. “To keep a NBA team getting 23 points or less in three-quarters, two games in a row, and then staying under 90, for me that’s a pretty amazing achievement and it’s something we want to do nightly, so that our defense we attack. “
It is true that, in this winning streak, Phoenix’s offensive ability is only slightly above average, but the defense at the other end is tight by the opponent, especially in the lower segment. Back to that Hawks game, after Trae Young scoring 14 of his 31 points in the third inning, he was held on only four points in the final 12 minutes of the game, while going 1/7 off the field.
The same thing happened when Phoenix fought the Mavericks. Kristaps Porzingis had no problem picking up 14 points in the first half, then he failed to score in the third, which helped the Suns avoid a bigger deficit after shooting just 29.2% from the pitch and 33, 3% when going deep into the final 12 minutes of the match. game.
Ayton did a great job of not giving Porzingis any space for a good shot, and when he thought he had the least amount of space, Crowder appeared with the help of the defence:
Another thing the Sun did well was denying admission tickets to Porzingis, which resulted in revenue, like this one from Bridges:
Crowder did the same thing in the first half with Porzingis:
The nasty defenses led by Bridges and Crowder throughout the game help Phoenix get through the water when its offensive behavior is struggling. It then often leads to a fourth quarter where the Suns’ offense starts to flare, as they lead the league in points in the quarter through their winning streak (29.9).
“There are a few games this year where we’ve done something similar,” Booker said. “Obviously you want it to come earlier in the game and knock out teams, but it’s a very talented tournament so it’s a long game and you’re going to stay in shape. Like Chris [Paul] said, you believe in your defense and we got through it together so we know how to close it and get it done. “
The Suns continue to finish each game well and when their shots start to drop earlier in the games, it will only make this team that much harder to beat. While the winning streak will eventually come to an end, this match period has shown how versatile and tough this team will be this season.
https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/three-observations-that-stand-out-from-the-suns-10-game-win-streak/ Three striking observations from Suns .’s 10-game winning streak