The Phoenix Suns can take advantage of the NBA return’s format

Kelly Oubre Phoenix Suns (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Kelly Oubre Phoenix Suns (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns may not be the most talented team in the field of 22, but they can use this format to steal some wins.

During the hiatus when speculation about the proper way to come back to play was rampant, one of the leading options was to skip the remainder of the regular season and go straight to the playoffs. This idea did not sit well with the players who demanded they needed at least five games to shake the rust off and get back into game shape. Players won that battle because they’re right. Teams will be rusty. And the Phoenix Suns can take advantage of that.

Generally speaking, when a game is sloppy and ugly, it favors the underdog. If the Suns’ theorized schedule holds mostly true to form, their opponents will be favorites in seven out of the eight games.

If the Suns were to play these teams in a normal regular season, that would spell certain doom, but in this format, where players have been cooped up and have had limited workout opportunities, some of these games might play like a preseason game, where teams are trying to find their basketball rhythm again.

The Phoenix Suns can take advantage of other teams’ rust and pre-season mentality.

Scrappy teams, like the Phoenix Suns, can potentially out-hustle, out-defend, and ultimately out-score more-talented teams in an ugly game.

Need proof this can happen? Look no further than the first 11 games of the season when the Suns started 7-4. Sure, they were playing well, but part of their success stemmed from opposing teams trying to get their feet under them.

Monty’s 0.5 system led to quick ball movement, aggressive cuts, and defensive hustle that led to easy points. That same system can be used to exploit better-on-paper teams who haven’t seen live action in months.

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On top of that, the Suns are going to be significantly more motivated to win than teams with guaranteed playoff spots.

Because let’s face it. For teams that have assured their spot in the post-season, the outcomes of these games are borderline meaningless. Their entire purpose is to tune-up for the playoffs and shake off the cobwebs. Do you really think teams like the Clippers (who the Suns will likely play) are going to push Kawhi Leonard and Paul George hard in a game against the Suns?

No way.

Doc Rivers and company will play them just enough to get them comfortable and back in game shape. They can save their intense, fourth-quarter heroics for when it really counts.

There is already a risk of a potentially very harmful virus, there is no reason to add the additional risk of injury to these teams’ stars. They’ll play just enough to feel comfortable, and then likely sit out.

The Suns’ stars, on the other hand, will be playing as if it this is the playoffs, because to the Suns, it kind of feels like it. They’ll be going all-out to win every game because that might be their only chance to make the actual playoffs.

Of course, this mentality may change if the Suns slip up and lose their first few games back. If that happens, the Suns may turn their focus on developing younger players and giving them some much-needed in-game experience (ahem, Ty Jerome).

Until then, though, the Suns will be going all-out, and if they win those first few games, and that nothing-to-lose mentality takes hold, then they have a chance put together a very memorable run.

Kelly Oubre is the X-Factor for the Phoenix Suns. dark. Next