The Phoenix Suns have not lost a single game in the Orlando Bubble. They are 4-0 since the NBA restarts and is looking to improve their seeding to clinch a spot in the playoffs in the Western Conference. Phoenix has beaten the Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana Pacers. Due to their four consecutive wins, their chance of making the play-in game has significantly improved.
Before the Hiatus
The Suns did not have a great season before postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic. They only won 26 games and were the 13th seed in the Western Conference coming into the NBA restart.
The last time the Suns made the playoffs was in 2010 when Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash carried the team to the Western Conference Finals. For ten years, Phoenix did not qualify for the playoffs and struggled in regular-season games, even after drafting Devin Booker as the 13th overall pick from the University of Kentucky. Booker was an offensive machine for the team, putting up incredible numbers. Yet, they could not qualify for the playoffs.
The Suns had another disappointing regular season and suffered from injuries. Kelly Oubre Jr., Cam Johnson, and Deandre Ayton were set to be out for an extended period and possibly miss the Bubble altogether. Not many people gave the Suns a chance in the restart, yet they’ve managed to find their rhythm to win four straight games.
Key Factors for Phoenix Suns
Despite the disappointing regular season, the Suns are back on track in the NBA restart and have shown their potential of being a playoff contender. They are just two games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the 8th seed in the Western Conference.
The Suns are using youth to their advantage, playing games at a fast pace, and cutting down in turnovers. They came into the season as the youngest team in league with an average age of 24.49 years. The average became even lower after releasing Tyler Johnson and Jared Harper while adding Cameron Payne to their squad.
The Suns struggled to find a backup guard behind Ricky Rubio. Payne has filled in the gap as he maintains an up-tempo pace and ball movement while on the floor and plays good defense on opposing guards. Payne contributed a lot to the four wins in Orlando.
The former number one pick in the NBA Draft is averaging 18.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in the Bubble while shooting 59% from the field. Despite a slow career start for the center, he is developing and changing his game. Ayton made his first career three-pointer in Orlando and improved his defense, averaging 1.7 blocks per game, which is double what he averaged as a rookie.
Booker scored 20 or more points in all four games Phoenix has won in Orlando and has not shown any signs of slowing down. He also made a clutch game-winning shot against the Clippers on Tuesday. Booker has always been a sensational player to watch, but he asserted his dominance even more inside the Bubble.
The 4-0 record is Booker’s first-ever four-game winning streak in his career. Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra appreciated Booker’s dominance and expressed a feeling of shame of not drafting him to the Heat in 2015.
Booker has never made the postseason in any of his five years with Phoenix. 2020 could be his best chance. If the Suns and Booker keep playing this way, they will make it to the play-in game and have a high probability of making the playoffs.
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