The Phoenix Suns continue to climb the standings in the Western Conference. A 119-113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers means the Suns jump to 4th in the West. This win tonight also means they have lost just one game since January 27th.
A well-rounded effort saw Phoenix past their Eastern Conference opponent. Star guard Devin Booker led the charge for the Suns, finishing with a team-high 36 points while shooting 55% from 3. Center Deandre Ayton added 15 points and 16 rebounds for the Suns. It was an especially impressive performance from the Suns, given the absence of point guard Chris Paul. The Suns ruled out Paul before the Cleveland game due to a sore hamstring.
Small forward Mikal Bridges finished with 22 points while shooting 80% from the field. The former Villanova man has enjoyed a breakout season for the Suns. Bridges is averaging a career-high in points, rebounds, and blocks per game. His 38% three-point percentage is also a career-high and an encouraging sign after mediocre shooting splits during his first two seasons.
The Cavaliers dropped their fourth consecutive game with the loss to Phoenix on Monday night. Guard Collin Sexton continued his strong season with 23 points while shooting 66% from the field. Center Andre Drummond also added a double-double, finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
In a tightly contested game, the Cavaliers’ downfall was their three-point shooting and free throws. Cleveland made just eight threes on the night and shot 33% overall from beyond the arc. The team also missed eight total free throws. While not an egregious amount, it is a tough pill to swallow, given that the loss was by just six points.
Suns Continue Strong Start
While Phoenix was expected to be a competitive team in the West, very few people would have predicted that they would be sitting in 4th through 25 games. A lot of their success so far can be attributed to their play in transition.
According to NBA Stats, the Suns rank in the 93rd percentile in transition play. They also are tied for 2nd in the NBA in points per possession in transition. With many young, athletic players, the Suns have capitalized off of their quick interplay and speed down the court to generate easy baskets. Having a great facilitator like Chris Paul makes any team a threat in transition. While he did not play tonight, he has been a big part of the Suns’ stellar playmaking this season.