- The Phoenix Suns defeated the Miami Heat last Saturday to move to 5-0 in Orlando.
- Phoenix is the only unbeaten team in the NBA’s bubble tournament.
- This five-game winning streak is their longest since 2014.
The bubble has given the Suns new life.
Phoenix entered the 22-team bubble tournament with a 26-39 record. Heading to the tournament, they were +10000 underdogs to make the playoffs as the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Oddsmakers also pegged their win total in Orlando at 2.5 with the over at +115. But the longshot Suns have surprised the NBA world as they remained as the only unbeaten team in the bubble heading to Monday’s games.
Phoenix’s season started well at 7-4 despite Deandre Ayton missing 25 games due to a PED-related suspension. However, things got rough along the way and they slid to 13 games below the .500 mark when the season was halted. Despite that, the Suns’ still posted their best win total since 2014-15. The playoffs though was another story as teams like the Pelicans, Blazers, Kings and Spurs were closer to the 8th seed Grizzlies than them.
Not Much Expectations
Not much was expected of Phoenix in the bubble tournament. There were four teams in the West that had a better chance of catching with the Grizzlies at 8th. Experts felt that the Suns would use the exposure to get their young duo of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton more experience.
Booker was named an All-Star for the first time this season and he is on pace to become the first player since LeBron and Oscar Robertson to post multiple seasons with 26 points and 6 assists per game before turning 24. Booker is averaging 26.4 points and 6.6 assists this season. He has scored at least 30 points in three of their five bubble games.
Ayton meanwhile, appeared in just a total of 30 games prior to the stoppage of play. Aside from his suspension, the former #1 pick also battled injuries all-season long. He was however, showing plenty of promise as he improved his averages to 19 points and 12 rebounds per game while almost doubling his blocks average at 1.7 per contest.
Unbeaten In the Bubble
— Overtime Heroics (@OT_Heroics) August 4, 2020
Before the tournament began, oddsmaker BetOnline set the odds for a team to go 8-0 in the bubble tournament at +375. Entering Monday’s games, the Suns are just three wins away from beating those odds. The Suns close out their seeding games with games against the Oklahoma City Thunder (Monday) Philadelphia 76ers (Tuesday), and Dallas Mavericks (Wednesday).
The Suns are 2-1 against Dallas this season and they defeated the Sixers in their only meeting this year. Phoenix is winless in two games against Oklahoma City this season, but give how good they have played so far in five games, sky is the limit for this young, talented, and hungry team.
The Suns beat the Wizards and Mavericks to begin their restart. Then Booker sank the Clippers with a buzzer beater in their third game. Phoenix hammered Indiana to win their fourth straight game, and then they knocked off the Heat in their last outing. The Suns’ current five game winning streak is their longest since 2014.
— Sixers #1 Fan (@Suns) August 9, 2020
The Suns stake their unbeaten slate against the Thunder on Monday afternoon with the tip-off scheduled at 2:30 PM ET. Phoenix is currently a four-point betting favorite to beat the Thunder:
But more than trying to stay unbeaten, the Suns have given themselves a legit chance at making the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
Phoenix is now at 31-39 and they have climbed to 10th place in the Western Conference team standings. The Suns are just 1.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the 8th seed in the West and they just one-half game off the 9th seeded Portland Trail Blazers with still three games to play.
The Grizziles’ Sunday loss to the defending champions Toronto Raptors ensured that there will be a play-in tournament between the 8-9th seed. ESPN stats say that Memphis has a 62% chance of making the postseason and the Suns will need help to through losses by Memphis and Portland. The Suns meanwhile, may have to win all their remaining games to get to the playoffs but given how good they have been, there’s no shortage of belief in Phoenix right now.