The Phoenix Suns are one win shy of tying their consecutive victory record of 17 straight wins after a 113-107 triumph over the Brooklyn Nets last Saturday at the Barclays Center.
The longest in the franchise’ history of streaks came during the 2006-2007 NBA season, when Steve Nash and the “7 Seconds or Less” Suns ripped off a 15-game winning streak from Nov. 20, 2006 to Dec. 19, 2006 – only to follow it up with a 17-game winning streak from Dec. 29, 2006 to Jan. 28, 2007.
SWEET 16! pic.twitter.com/1lGoQIS9ee— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) November 28, 2021
HOW DID SUNS BECOME SO GOOD?
The seeds of the team’s rise to prominence date back to the NBA Bubble games in Orlando, prior to the end of the 2019-2020 season when the COVID-19 pandemic forced all NBA teams to live, train and play in an enclosed space. Having the worst record of the 13 Western Conference teams that qualified for the bubble, the Suns, at 26-39, faced a monumental task: win all eight games (seven of eight against better opponents) just to have a chance to make the playoffs.
Rising above the odds, the Suns went perfect in the bubble, victorious in all eight games. But their 34-39 record was only good enough to tie for 10th place with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies held the tie-breaker over Phoenix, having won three of their four matchups, all of which were played prior to the bubble.
Whatever happened in the four and a half months leading to the bubble games can only be termed Evolutionary. After years of mediocrity hovering over their flashes of brilliance, the core of the Suns’ young team comprising Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges were now ready to prove their mettle to the world.
The Suns are the best team in the NBA! This team just has that "IT" factor about them and they know it. No egos, No selfishness, No hidden agendas. Absolutely special group of players and coaches just playing the right way and playing for each other. This is so gratifying to see! pic.twitter.com/Z0DDZEI5Z5— FLEX From Jersey (@FlexFromJersey) November 28, 2021
The additions of Chris Paul and Jae Crowder in the 2020/21 season brought veteran leadership and playoff experience the team desperately needed, but pre-season expectations were mixed: Were the bubble games real? Are Booker, Ayton and Bridges capable of taking that next step? Can Paul mesh with a young but promising roster?
The team emphatically answered all of those questions and more, making a remarkable 51-21 record to finish second in the West.
In the playoffs, Ayton showed his growth as the defensive anchor of a team ready to lock horns and compete for the Championship. Paul struggled early with a neck injury and missed time due to COVID, but that did little to slow down the Suns as they climbed their way past the Lakers, the Nuggets and the Clippers to make their first NBA Finals since 1993.
The Suns are 17-3 this season — only second to the Warriors.— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 28, 2021
They are 7-1 vs .500 teams — only second to the Warriors. pic.twitter.com/EmxNCZOtzp
But in the Finals, the superior fire-power of Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was too much for the Suns to handle and they lost the series in six games.
THE STREAK IS NO FLUKE
There went a narrative, for a short while though, about the lack of marquee wins in the streak. This argument has been aided by wins against a Dallas Mavericks team missing its All-Star guard, Luka Doncic, and one game against a Nuggets team without Murray, Michael Porter Jr. and the reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic, but last Saturday’s over the Kevin Durant led Brooklyn Nets suggests the streak is no fluke.
Phoenix impressively overwhelmed the Eastern Conference leaders early, never trailing and leading by as much as 22, indicative of a team that could be likened to a well oiled machine.
Devin Booker sent out a tweet late Saturday capturing the Suns’ dominance over the two New York teams Phoenix triumphed over in three days, a la, Knicks and Nets.
It’s been real big 🍎. ✌🏼— Book (@DevinBook) November 28, 2021
SUN RISING FOR THE PHOENIX
Whether or not the streak endures, Coach Monty Williams has proven to be a veritable manager of the lads, turning a young core with potential into an experienced and confident championship contender capable of holding its own against any elite NBA team.
The Suns’ are home at the Footprint Center on Tuesday as they welcome an 18-2 Golden State Warriors. Both sides are at the summit of the Western Conference, and with the complement of the respective team’s best hands and legs on rotation, then one could rest assured of a great game, especially with Steph Curry and Chris Devin Booker stringing passes, assists and shooting treys.
Two days off for the streaking Suns.— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) November 28, 2021
All eyes on Tuesday, with the Warriors in town for a matchup of the NBA's two best records 👀 pic.twitter.com/awkdMuYE46