Why the Phoenix Suns are the Most Clutch Team in the NBA

Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

D’Angelo Russell owns the “ice in my veins” celebration, but his buddy Devin Booker knows a thing or two about clutch play himself. Booker not only helped the Phoenix Suns grind out a close battle against Russell’s Minnesota Timberwolves a few days ago, but he also sunk the Dallas Mavericks last night, connecting on what looked like a heat-seeking missile during the game’s closing moments.

It sealed the deal on Phoenix’s tenth straight win, extending their longest win streak under Monty Williams even further. They now sit just just one game behind the Golden State Warriors, even despite earning a fraction of the same hype.

But even outside Booker’s heroics last night, the Suns saw late game contributions come from all corners of their roster, helping to keep said stretch alive. Deandre Ayton added eight points during the fourth quarter, shooting a perfect 4-4 from the field.

Mikal Bridges, who entered the final period with just three points, proceeded to score seven while also securing two rebounds, two steals, and a blocked shot. Off the bench, Cameron Johnson brought six points to the table, hitting two triples during the fourth’s first two minutes.

But the clutch play from last night looked like just another episode for the Suns, even feeling like a rerun of sorts. Night after night, the Suns keep pulling out victories even during the most intense situations—presenting themselves as the NBA’s most clutch team.

Those that watch the Valley Boys each night certainly know this, but at the same time, statistics reflect this truth as well.

For every clutch situation, which the league defines as a game within five points and under five minutes to play, the Suns average the third most points with 10.1 per game, the second highest field goal percentage at 64.9 percent, and the third highest 3-point percentage at 46.2 percent.

Although the Suns do not hold a first place spot for any of those statistical categories, they are the only team to make the top three in each one—fully endorsing themselves as the most clutch team from a general, offensive standpoint.

With assists though, the Suns do stand above everyone else, averaging 2.7 dimes per game during clutch situations, the most by any NBA team. Additionally, Phoenix carries the second lowest turnover rate with just 0.3 per game, allowing them to post a ludicrous +9.5 assist to turnover ratio.

At the defensive end, the Suns also hold their opponents to just 31.7 percent on clutch shooting, which clocks in as the third lowest in the league. From downtown, their opponents also shoot 18.8 percent, the fourth lowest allowed.

Like with their own shooting, the Suns do not own a top spot for these categories, but no other team makes the top four in both statistical categories, separating Phoenix from the pack.

At both ends of the floor, the Suns stand out as the only team persisting with solid numbers across all fronts. It makes sense given their win streak, and coincides with what we see on the court each night especially from Chris Paul and Booker.

But most importantly, it bodes well for the team going forward.

Last year, the Suns also finished as a top five group under every clutch stat mentioned, and we all know how far they made it that year. The ability to perform under pressure is not something learned, but something typically built within a player’s mentality, and the Suns clearly carry a roster with it sprinkled all over.

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Going forward, even as the Suns find themselves under the most dire circumstances, fans have no need to sweat it out. Their guys know how to stay cool better than anyone, which remains a championship-esque luxury.