After years of being one of the worst teams in basketball, the Phoenix Suns are somehow 4-0 in the Orlando bubble and have a shot at the playoffs.
What we know:
- For the Suns, it all revolves around Devin Booker. Booker is having a fantastic season, averaging a team-high 26.2 points a game and is posting career-highs in field goal percentage and free throw percentage. He made his first all-star team this season and recently became the 6th youngest player in NBA history to score 7,500 career points. In the bubble, he’s gotten even better. He’s averaging 28 points with great efficiency over four games, and the Suns are undefeated. He especially showed out against the Los Angeles Clippers. He dropped 35 points, eight assists, hit six threes and capped off the night with a game-winner over Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
- While it’s no surprise that Devin Booker is leading the charge, the rest of this Suns team has been a revelation. The Suns are getting solid contributions up and down the roster. After Booker, there are five players averaging at least 10 points a game in the bubble. We expect it of some guys; Deandre Ayton and Ricky Rubio have been reliable producers all year, and they’re keeping it up in the bubble. However, guys like Cam Johnson, Cameron Payne, and Mikal Bridges have really stepped up in an unexpected way. With Bridges especially, he’s been providing excellent defense for the Suns, torturing offensive players with his length and great instincts.
- Head coach Monty Williams deserves a lot of credit as well. Ever since the restart, he’s gotten the Suns to actually play defense. Over just the last four games, the Suns rank 4th in team defensive rating, and they’re 3rd in net rating. Although it’s just four games, they’ve played against some good teams. Outside of the hapless Wizards, they’ve beaten three playoff teams in the Mavericks, Clippers, and Pacers. The Mavericks have two of the best young players in the league, the Clippers are bonafide title contenders, and the Pacers are led by T.J. Warren, who is averaging 34 points a game and is the hottest player in the bubble.
- Despite being one of the NBA’s laughing stocks for the last five years, the Suns have turned it around in the bubble and are one of two teams who are undefeated in the restart. They have a shot at the playoffs, but it’s a tight race. Right now, Memphis sits in the 8th and final playoff spot, with Portland in the 9th seed and Phoenix in 10th. Phoenix has to get to the 9th seed and stay within four games of the 8th seed to trigger a play-in game, where they would have to win two additional games to make the playoffs. Memphis is in freefall right now, losing all 4 of their bubble games so far, so it’s possible for them to fall out of the playoff picture. Portland, on the other hand, is 3-1 in the bubble and overall is just a much better team than Phoenix, so they’ll be tough to beat. Phoenix will need some help in the form of Memphis and Portland losing more games, but they might get lucky and make the 9th seed if they keep up their stellar play.
Phoenix was the 13th seed in the West coming into the bubble – the worst team in the conference to be invited. Outside of Suns fans, not a lot of people gave them a shot at making any noise in the bubble. However, they’ve been a great surprise and they’re adding some more excitement to the Western Conference playoff race.