3 biggest reasons behind Suns’ historic winning streak
The reigning Western Conference champions are by far the hottest team in the league right now. This now marks Phoenix’s longest winning streak since the Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire era during the 2006-07 season, when the team won 15 straight and 17 straight on separate streaks en route to a 61-21 campaign.
This is definitely an impressive feat for this Suns squad. Considering all the noise they heard during the summer about their Finals run being a fluke, their blazing start to the 2021-22 season should quiet down the chatter quite a bit. There are obviously a lot of notable things to takeaway from the Phoenix’s torrid run. Here are the three biggest reasons behind the Suns’ historic winning streak to begin the season.
3 reasons for Suns historic winning streak
1. Favorable strength of schedule
Let’s just be honest. The Suns have had one of the relatively easier schedules around the league. Per ESPN, the Suns rank 4th in terms of easiest strength of schedule in the NBA so far. That is arguably one of the biggest reasons why Phoenix is thriving so far to start the year. Seven of their 11 wins came against teams .500 or below.
This point does not mean to discredit or water down Phoenix’s streak whatsoever. They are simply taking care of business by beating the teams they should be beating.
2. Finding ways to win in the fourth quarter
Despite owning the longest winning streak in the league, that doesn’t mean the Suns are also the most dominant. While they have blown out teams amidst this run, they also needed to scratch and claw their way back in several of their wins.
During the infancy of this streak, the Suns actually found themselves down to the lowly New Orleans Pelicans throughout the game. They trailed by 11 at half time and entered the fourth quarter facing a 6-point deficit. However, the Suns eventually stormed back and outscored the Pelicans on a furious 36-18 fourth period.
Against the Atlanta Hawks, they used 35-19 fourth quarter to overcome a 12-point deficit entering into the period. It was a close game for the most part until the Hawks used a furious rally to close the third quarter. Phoenix made their run and went on an 8-2 run in the final 1:29 to close the deal.
The Suns also found themselves in a tight contest with the Minnesota Timberwolves last week. Chris Paul’s 19 big fourth quarter points definitely helped keep the Suns in the game. They also needed some luck as the Timberwolves missed a couple of golden opportunities to win the game and snap Phoenix’s 9-game winning streak at the time in the closing seconds.
In both games against the Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks, they entered the fourth quarter trailing by five. They used a 37-25 fourth quarter on Wednesday and a 33-20 final period to complete the back-to-back come-from-behind victories of the Mavs. The Suns were on fire in the fourth quarters of both games, shooting 70 percent and 65 percent, respectively, to put away Dallas.
Per NBA.com’s clutch stats tracking, the Suns have shot a blistering 63.6 percent from the field and have posted a 72.7 percent true shooting percentage in the six games they played in the clutch over this stretch. Having cold-blooded shot-makers such as Devin Booker and Chris Paul definitely help their case in closing out ball games. Here are a couple of examples of D-Book getting it done down the stretch versus Dallas.
Devin Booker. Clutch in the fourth quarter 🔥 pic.twitter.com/K5XPlwgiaG
— NBA TV (@NBATV) November 18, 2021
Devin Booker with the block, Devin Booker with the bucket!
Suns trying to put the finishing touches on the Mavs 💯pic.twitter.com/aW7uyemg1p
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) November 20, 2021
The Suns have also banked on their defense to win them basketball games. Despite missing defensive anchor Deandre Ayton for six games due to a right leg contusion, Phoenix still posted the second best defensive rating in the NBA over this 11-game stretch, per NBA.com. They have allowed just 101.3 points per game throughout this run and in five of their 11 wins, they held their opponents to below 100. The Suns have also allowed their opponents to shoot just 41.6 percent from the field and have forced 17 turnovers per contest, which both rank 3rd best on this run.
Ayton is obviously a huge part of what the Suns do defensively. But in his absence, JaVale McGee’s presence has become a steady presence for them defensively as a rim protector. He has proven to be a key offseason signing to step in whenever Ayton misses time.
Mikael Bridges is also playing at high-level defensively and Chris Paul is the first to campaign for the 3-and-D wing’s inclusion in the All-Defensive team this season.
The question was for Devin Booker about Mikal Bridges, but Chris Paul had something to say.
"I don't care if Mikal don't play another game this season, he better be on that all-defensive team this year. Every night. Every night." pic.twitter.com/WdjdNFbxnt
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) November 20, 2021
Heck, as seen in the clip above, even Devin Booker is getting it done defensively.
As the saying goes, defense wins championships. If the Suns continue to establish good habits defensively this early on in the season, they will definitely have a chance to prove last year’s Finals run wasn’t a fluke.