Phoenix Hopes Hawks Fly too Close to the Suns

Apr 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) dribbles past Atlanta Hawks forward Kent Bazemore (24) during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Suns 103-90. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) dribbles past Atlanta Hawks forward Kent Bazemore (24) during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Suns 103-90. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

Phoenix Suns (22-52) v Atlanta Hawks (37-36)

Tuesday 3/28/2017 4:30pm
Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
Fox Sports Arizona/Arizona Sports 98.7FM

Season Series – Phoenix leads 1-0
All-Time Series – Phoenix leads 71-52
Last Matchup – November 30, 2016 Phoenix won 109-107
Suns’ Last Game – Loss to Charlotte 120-106
Hawks’ Last Game – Loss to Brooklyn 107-92
Suns’ Scoring Averages – PTS/G: 107.2 (10th of 30) Opp PTS/G: 113.0 (29th of 30)
Hawks’ Scoring Averages – PTS/G: 103.1 (21st of 30) Opp PTS/G: 104.5 (13th of 30)


Not only have the Suns decimated themselves through the benching (or trading) of their veteran stars, but they have further been recently hampered by injuries that are beginning to have their toll on the roster as well. For the past week and a half Ronnie Price has been out with a left lower-leg contusion and there has yet to be an official announcement on his return. Then Leandro Barbosa missed the Charlotte game due to a left hamstring injury which unfortunately came on the heels of an apparent bout of food poisoning that caused him to miss two and a half games last week.

Due to this, against Charlotte on Sunday the Suns played an eight-man rotation bringing only Jared Dudley, Derrick Jones Jr. and Alan Williams off the bench (although Jarell Eddie was given two minutes near the very end as well).

Due to this guard shortage in particular, rookie Tyler Ulis has been receiving an inordinate amount of game time, especially when compared to prior to his ascension to the starting role on March 15. (More on those stats in the Three Interesting Facts).

Speaking of, Ulis was the only player to receive more than 40 minutes against Charlotte, racking up 40:40 in the Suns’ loss, though falling one assist short of a double-double scoring 16 points and dishing out 9 assists while only turning the ball over once. The Suns found themselves down to the Hornets 22-3 only a couple of minutes in, the second time in two games they have created such an early deficit. Down by as many as 25 in the third quarter, the young Suns worked their way to a four point deficit with 4:36 remaining, although they would never find themselves any closer as Charlotte outscored them 15-5 the rest of the way to take the victory in wire-to-wire fashion.

The Suns have not held a lead of any size or duration since there was 1:30 remaining in the second quarter at Brooklyn. That equates to 121:30 game clock minutes and in actual game time, approximately 5:40. For more information about the Suns (intentional) losing and the possibility of their losing streak which now sits at eight, stretching to a franchise worst, read here.

The Atlanta Hawks are still technically in the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference (they are tied with the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers, although according to the standings they own the tie-breakers) they are currently on a seven game losing streak which has made their hold on the 5th spot tenuous at best. Prior to the start of the losing on March 13, not only did the Hawks have a seeming strangle hold on the 5th seed up 3.5 games over the Pacers, they were only a game behind the Toronto Raptors for 4th and home court advantage in the playoff’s first round. Meanwhile the Raptors have won six straight and are now safely 7.5 games ahead of the Hawks, while only a half game behind the Washington Wizards for 3rd overall, and three games out of first place in the Conference.

The Suns will have several opportunities to break their own losing streak over their final eight games, this afternoon’s game being the first best chance.

Three Interesting Stats

Phoenix Suns

1. Prior to becoming the team’s starting point guard, Tyler Ulis averaged 11.5 minutes per game. Since, he has played no less than 34:11, (Boston on Sunday) and over his last seven games, is now averaging 40.8 minutes per start.

2. Since March 13, other than Ulis no other player in the league is averaging 40+ minutes per game. The Suns have three players in the top-8 over that period of time in minutes played with 1. Tyler Ulis (40.8), 5. T.J. Warren (38.5) and 8. Devin Booker (37.4). Only Minnesota has more than one in the top-8 with 4. Karl-Anthony Towns (38.6) and 7. Andrew Wiggins (37.7). Hopefully the Suns and Timberwolves don’t wear their young players out now causing long-term injury in the future (unlikely of course, but you never know).

3. As a starter, Tyler Ulis is averaging 12.1 points, 9.0 assists and 3.1 rebounds, not bad for a 5’10” 21-year old rookie. However, if he is ever going to find himself as a long-term starter in this league, or even a solid backup point, his shooting will have to take a dramatic turn for the better. As a starter Ulis is averaging 34.5% from the field, a miserable 11.1% from three, and 60.0% from three throw line. His double-figure scoring average is more a result of if you shoot enough you’ll score  as he averages 15.7 field goal attempts per game.

Atlanta Hawks

1. Call it the Kyle Korver Effect, but when the Hawks traded the three-point master they were 21-16 and were one win away from reaching a season-high 7-game winning streak. Since that point the Hawks are 15-20 and currently sitting on the aforementioned 7-game losing streak.

2. One might assume that without Korver the Hawks might have suffered a little bit from beyond the arc, but the truth is, there has almost been no effect  on their long distance shooting from the pre to post Korver team. Prior to his trade on January 7, the Hawks shot 8.8-25.7 per game for 34.0%. Since they are an almost identical 8.8 – 26.1 for 33.8%.

3. During their 7-game losing streak, just getting points on the board has been the Hawks’ biggest issue. Already not a prolific scoring team, Atlanta has seen their scoring average drop like a rock from 104.0, 20th in the league, to 95.1, 28th overall. Their defense has not suddenly fallen off either as their points allowed has only grown 1.2 during this streak to 105.6 from 104.4. prior.