While the Phoenix Suns are 5-3 so far this season, the team is actually better than that record would indicate.
As one of the surprisingly good teams in the West thus far, they have two victories over the New Orleans Pelicans and have also beaten the Portland Trailblazers, Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets once each. These wins came by an average of eight points per game. The Pelicans and Trailblazers should be fringe playoff teams in the hotly contested Western Conference, while the Nuggets and Jazz will be bottom-feeders looking ahead to the 2014 draft. The Suns are undefeated at home.
The three losses are even more intriguing. Phoenix lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trailblazers… all on the road… by a combined 11 points.
They lost to Oklahoma City because they are an offensive juggernaut, it was their home opener, and it was Russell Westbrook’s debut. With all of those factors you would think it would be a blowout, but they only lost by seven.
The loss to San Antonio was unfortunate, but with such a young team and the game in Texas, Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the Spurs just out-executed the Suns in the final minutes for a slight three-point loss.
In Portland Wednesday, it came down to the final seconds and the Suns couldn’t (multiple times) tip in a Bledsoe missed layup causing Portland to win by one point… or did they? There is proof Nicholas Batum (who I predicted would have a good game) goaltended one of the tip-ins, which would have handed Phoenix the victory. I guess Batum really did have an impact for the Trailblazers! He won them the game!
One huge factor in these losses that looms large is the fact that Goran Dragic continues to get injured.
Dragic banged heads with P.J. Tucker in the Utah game, tried to give it a go in the second half, but couldn’t. A Bledsoe buzzer-beater was the only thing that overcame a second half basically without Dragic.
The Dragon hurt his ankle the following game against OKC and the Suns went on to lose, as it looked like Bledsoe just ran out of gas. In his career, Bledsoe has never averaged more than 23 minutes per game, and in the first eight games with Phoenix, he is averaging 34 minutes per game. He just isn’t used to it and gets worn out.
Dragic’s ankle injury lingered three more games, including a three-point loss to his rival San Antonio Spurs, whom he destroyed during the playoffs in his first stint with Phoenix. The Suns prevailed against the lesser Pelicans and Nuggets in the period without Dragic, partly due to Gerald Green playing well in Dragic’s spot at shooting guard.
And now Dragic gashes his head during Wednesday’s game against Portland and has to leave to get stitches. Of course the Suns go on to lose by ONE … SINGLE… POINT.
With all the losses coming by a combined 11 points, it’s not difficult to see a hypothetical where Phoenix comes into Friday’s bout with Brooklyn undefeated.
Can the Suns continue their strong play and defeat the veteran Nets? See for yourself by getting your Suns tickets now!