Through six games, the Phoenix Suns averaged over 36 points per game off the bench. Against the Philadelphia 76ers, they only scored 19, but it didn’t matter.
The Philadelphia 76ers are very good at basketball. They are objectively more talented better than the Phoenix Suns, but don’t tell any player on the Suns that. They will have none of it.
To get the major caveats out of the way, the Sixers were down their best big man, but so were the Suns, so call it even.
One of the reasons the Suns have had so much early season success has been their bench play. Specifically, Frank Kaminsky has been playing like he is a Wisconsin Badger once again, and Jevon Carter has been careering behind the arc on top of his ridiculous, bulldog defense.
It has all added up to the Suns averaging 36 points per game off the bench, and while there is a clear dip in talent when the likes of Rubio and Booker take a rest, there hasn’t been a fear the overall play will fall off a cliff.
Against one of the best teams in the East, you would think this prolific bench production would need to continue in order for the Suns to stay in contention.
Not the case.
The Phoenix Suns’ bench only put up 19 total points, leaving the brunt of the scoring load to the starters. Well, to Devin Booker, primarily.
Frank Kaminsky, who looked so confident in the first few games, appeared to revert to a more timid and unsure version of himself, and Carter’s much improved jump shot was not falling.
What was working, however, was the defense, so even though they didn’t score much, they prevented the 76ers bench from doing much scoring themselves.
Carter, along with Mikal Bridges, grabbed two steals a piece, leading to fast break layups and dunks. That will be how they continue to score on a regular basis.
In fact, the Suns as a team are second in the league in points off turnovers at 22.6 per game, trailing only none other than the 76ers, whose tremendous length reeked havoc on the Suns pass-happy offense early.
The point is that kind of defense is sustainable.
Devin Booker isn’t always going to put up 40. There might be games where he only shoots 65% from the field instead of 79%, and misses more than one 3-pointer.
Henceforth, the bench will need to consistently put up more than 19 point per game, but against a title contender, they showed if they keep up the aggressive defense, they can help turn an off-night offensively into a win.