Troubling fourth-quarter stat a big problem to Phoenix Suns' title hopes

The Phoenix Suns want to win a maiden NBA Championship this season, but this troubling fourth-quarter stat is a massive roadblock to making it happen.
Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets
Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets / Jamie Schwaberow/GettyImages

The Phoenix Suns have reached the last quarter of their regular season adventure, and they are still too close to the play-in tournament for comfort. Tuesday's win over the Denver Nuggets was a welcome change of pace after dropping a couple of games, but their 36-26 record isn't striking fear into the pacer-setters out West.

With no Devin Booker for the next few games because of an ankle sprain suffered when standing on his teammate Royce O'Neale's foot recently, center Jusuf Nurkic stood up alongside Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal when needed.

The play of these three alone won't be enough for the Suns to go all the way this season, and a troubling stat has emerged that is also not helping.

That's because despite pulling out some impressive wins over the court of the season - most notably against the Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers - as ClutchPoints has pointed out below, the Suns have a fourth-quarter problem.

That figure is... ugly. Even worse, the games slow down to a tense, fourth-quarter pace much quicker come the postseason. The knock on how this Suns team were built heading into the season was that they could potentially be historic offensively, but would struggle to contain other teams.

They haven't hit the heights with their scoring, but they also haven't been as bad as expected on the other end either. In fact in the last 15 games, the Suns have the ninth best defensive rating (110.7) in the entire NBA. Head coach Frank Vogel doing a wonderful job with the players at his disposal, even managing to get some minutes out of fringe guys like Bol Bol.

But all of the best teams in the league have at least one - and in most cases two or three - elite scorers who can get them a bucket when it comes to crunch time. The Suns are unlikely to be able to remedy this terrible number between now and the end of the season, and it could ultimately be their undoing.

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Worse again, they surely plan on having the likes of Nurkic and Thaddeus Young fill out their playoff rotation. David Roddy may also get a sniff, while Drew Eubanks is sure to see some time as the backup center.

With Josh Okogie actually missed when he's out through injury, it just goes to show the predicament the Suns have on their hands. Stopping opponents could be their biggest problem, just like we always knew it would be.