The Phoenix Suns are peaking at exactly the right time

The Phoenix Suns have won three games in a row, and are suddenly rounding into form at exactly the right time.
Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns
Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

It would be fair to say that the 2023-24 Phoenix Suns season has been one that has featured a lot of twists and turns. To be in a play-in battle in April was never part of the plan, but the team have responded well to the challenge by winning their last three games in a row.

Combine that with the New Orleans Pelicans - who Devin Booker has now hung more than 50 points on three times in a row - losing four straight, and all of a sudden this is a Suns group that can look forwards in the standings, as opposed to over their shoulder.

Flicking the switch in this league is a fallacy - and the Suns haven't exactly set the world alight recently - but they are peaking at just the right time.

Ironically it may have been an injury to a key player who kickstarted this mini-revival. When Grayson Allen was forced to sit with a flare up of an old hip injury recently, it was on Royce O'Neale to step into the starting lineup.

He was so good in that brief stint with the starters that there were calls for O'Neale to have replace Allen in the starting lineup permanently. Allen has had a wonderful season - and the Suns would do well to keep him beyond this season - but this forced shuffling of the deck might just have given head coach Frank Vogel new ways to hurt opponents.

The Suns have also had - and continue to have - the toughest remaining schedule in the league recently, yet they have won four of their last five games. Of their remaining contests they have the Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves (who they just beat), the so-so Sacramento Kings and the L.A. Clippers twice.

It would be fair to point out the Clippers are nowhere near as good as they looked a few months back, when they were the best team in the league for about six weeks. The Suns have also beaten the defending champion Denver Nuggets twice in the last month as well. So it could be that this is a team that plays up to the level of their opponents.

But could it also be that the Suns have finally figured out the best way to play together to beat teams? If that feels like an optimistic view, remember that Bradley Beal was acting as the Suns' point guard and having real success doing it before the team went on this mini run.

Defensively the Suns still are far from elite, and yet coach Vogel was recently full of praise for Booker on that end of the court. Kevin Durant has also had one of his best seasons ever on that end of the court, but the fact he continues to climb the scoring charts and is one of the best to ever put the ball through the hoop has overshadowed that fact.

Yet there has been reason for optimism over the last three games, with the Suns having the fourth best defensive rating (102.0) in that time. Holding the Timberwolves to 87 points will certainly help that number, and limiting them to 61 points through three-quarters in that same game was definitely a platform to built upon.

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But on the offensive end it has also been good news in the same span, with the Suns fifth (116.3) and having scored 343 points total throughout their run of wins. The belief with this group was always that they would have to outscore opponents in order to have real success, and that is still going to be true once the postseason begins.

But if an extended run of high level play defensively - even until the end of the regular season - can see them avoid the play-in tournament, then that will be a win relative to the direction this campaign was going even two weeks ago. With their "Big 3" firing on all cylinders and no injuries to report, it sure does look like the Suns are peaking at exactly the right time.