The Miami Heat verses the Phoenix Suns was likely not circled on many calendars at the beginning of the season. It still might not be. But both teams have shared eerily similar early season success.
The Phoenix Suns host two of the highest profile teams in the NBA in the next five days when the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets come to town. With the Valley Boys out to prove their 5-2 record is no fluke, there is no doubt they are gearing up to challenge the likes of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
With all that just around the corner, it might be easy for them to overlook the Miami Heat tonight.
Or, as your goofy uncle might joke, “When you’re out in Phoenix, you can’t underestimate the heat.”
Puns and goofy uncles for the win.
The Heat aren’t unlike the Phoenix Suns with regards to surprising early season success. In fact, they are nearly identical.
They both sit at 5-2 and got there with impressive wins. While the Suns claimed victories over the LA Clippers and the Philadelphia 76ers, the Heat trounced the Beard’s mighty Houston Rockets and eked out an overtime win against the Milwaukee Bucks, who are arguably the best team in the NBA, and objectively are still led by the reigning MVP.
This is where Suns haters and Heat defenders jump and and say, “Yeah, and the Heat did it with those rosters at full strength. The Suns beat LA and the Sixers when they didn’t have Paul George and Joel Embiid.”
All true. For what it is worth, the Suns have not had Deandre Ayton either, but the point is that the Heat are also surprisingly good. The real question is why.
A quick glance at their roster and nothing really jumps out save for Jimmy Butler, the man notoriously coveted by the teams who don’t have him and suspiciously unwanted by teams that do.
However, it has been their young guys who have stepped up early including under-the-radar favorite for Rookie of the Year, Tyler Herro.
The Kentucky product known for his shooting has shown out impressively in his first few games, averaging nearly 14 points per game, and breaking some highlight-worthy ankles on occasion.
However, it isn’t a superstar diva, heralded rookie, or even two-time former disgruntled Sun, Goran Dragic, who lead the Heat in scoring thus far.
It is some guy called Kendrick Nunn.
This will probably upset the Oakland alumni and the hardcore Horizon league followers, but no one has ever heard of Kendrick Nunn.
That is actually a complement because he now finds himself technically a rookie (even though he went undrafted last year and played for the Warriors’ G-League affiliate) and leading the team with the third best record in the East in scoring at 18.3 points per game.
The Phoenix Suns are not led by rookies. Cameron Johnson has played decent in sparse minutes while Ty Jerome suffered an unfortunately sprained ankle. However, the casual basketball fan might not exactly immediately recognize names such as Aron Baynes and Dario Saric.
And if they do, it is not as if they thought they would be starting for Western Conference contender.
The two teams are near twins in the sense they are propelled by one superstar, a couple of solid NBA players and a host of unknowns playing above their heads.
If this game were a meme, it would be the one where Spiderman recognizes his clone.
It gets spookier when you realize the Heat play the Lakers Friday night themselves, so this game both falls into the traditional trap game scenario.
It will be interesting to see which team of unexpected winners continues their hot streak, and which one gets get kicked back down the power ranking ladder.