Phoenix Suns’ next 8: Keep it rolling

Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Phoenix Suns used an overwhelming push during Friday’s victory over Oklahoma City, similar to the push up the standings that has raised eyebrows across the NBA community.

When the Suns lost to OKC in Game 16, they fell to 8-8 on the season. Since then, they’ve run off a 26-6 streak to hit 34-14. On Friday, they fell into a 5-5 tie before running off on a 19-0 streak that led to a 140-103 rout.

The team has maintained its perch near the top of the NBA’s power rankings.

The Phoenix Suns have an opportunity to expand their Pacific Division lead with over the next eight games before a road trip.

Here’s what they face, along with some comments from Deandre Ayton during a recent appearance on ESPN.

April 5 at Houston: “It’s hard to win in this league.” Well, it had better not mean a loss to this group. Chris Paul looks for his 500th career game of at least 10 assists.

April 7 home vs. Jazz: Chris Paul and Jae Crowder help make this a marquee matchup. Ayton: “We added some pieces where, sophisticated guys helping us younger guys get used to approaching the game totally different.”

April 8 at Clippers: “All thanks to Coach Monty and James Jones for putting this team together — a great group of guys doing our thing.” A victory on the second of a back-to-back at LA is this month’s big test.

April 10 home vs. Wizards: Here’s a game where Paul’s influence on Ayton should shine, because Paul “gets me the easy baskets and spoon-fed me most of the time… you know, it’s lit.”

April 12 home vs. Rockets: What else should be lit? The scoreboard as the Rockets come to Phoenix for what should be another thumping.

April 13 home vs. Heat: This is a tricky one; another back-to-back battling a competitive team. The Paul-Ayton dynamic will be key again: “He’s definitely showing me different ways how to get to the basket easily, how much of a threat I am to the basket when it’s in a pick and roll.”

April 15 and 17, home vs. Kings and Spurs: These two games may need Devin Booker to ensure there’s no drop in energy. Ayton referenced last summer’s 2K championship in which Booker defeated Ayton for the title. “D-Book is a gamer, he’s a competitor, I can tell you that. He just loves to win.”

And those two games need to be Ws because, after that, a four-game road trip begins a 16-game stretch to end the regular season.

The Phoenix Suns are entering some rare territory — certainly within the past 10 years — and a few numbers bear that out.

  • The Suns are now  20 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2009-10 season when they finished 54-28.
  • The team’s depth prominently features Dario Saric. Get this: Saric joins Paul Pierce and Paul George as the top three players to reach 2,000 career rebounds and 500 3-point field goals the fastest. Saric’s 336 games trails only Pierce (310 games) and George (324 games).
  • The Suns’ 43-13 first quarter Friday night against OKC was the largest  margin in any quarter in franchise history. It was also the largest by any NBA team in any quarter since  Nov. 3, 2019 (Miami +32 in first quarter vs. Houston).
  • Devin Booker has scored 20 or more points in three consecutive halves.
  • And, finally, holding opponents to fewer than 110 points has produced a 25-3 record for the Suns.

It’s a good trend as playoff season approaches.

Next. Phoenix Suns potential Final Four targets. dark