I don’t think I’m alone in saying I don’t really understand how the Phoenix Suns have been so good this season.
They looked to be a prime candidate for regression after their spectacular 2021-22 campaign flamed out in the 2nd round, and the ‘bad vibes’ of not adding much in the offseason and retaining a grumpy Deandre Ayton and sidelining an also-grumpy Jae Crowder. All that, and they have had long-term injuries to Chris Paul and 6th man turned starter Cam Johnson. Their starting backcourt is Torrey Craig and Cam Payne!
And yet they are 1st place in the Western Conference with a top-10 defense (6th) and offense (2nd).
That offense is obviously reliant more than ever on Devin Booker, who is having his best season yet (career best 22.4 PER) and with team accolades has certainly surpassed onetime contemporary Zach LaVine (LaVine regressing post knee injury doesn’t help either). They actually don’t shoot that many threes (23rd in 3PAr, still more than the Bulls of course) but make 37% of them (9th).
What they are elite at is taking care of the ball (5th) and offensive rebounding (4th). So that will be an interesting dynamic where the Bulls have thrived when they can control their own defensive glass, force turnovers, and score in transition.
Despite their respective records, I think the Bulls can take this. Both teams are on a couple days rest and obviously it’s a road matchup in Phoenix, but still. Keep the game close and maybe the clutch luck will go their way for once this season.
I’m not even saying this is some opposite shit where the Bulls somehow this year are beating good teams...I am more refusing to believe that the Suns are this good given their current state. Again: they start Cam Payne.
Mentioned everyone out for the Suns, nobody else.
For the Bulls, they have a lot of players listed but they’re all probable. I suppose just want to let us know they’re trying hard out there (noted!)
Game Time: 8pm Central, NBC Sports Chicago