Suns

Achievements Aplenty for Sneaky 2nd-Seeded Suns

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What a wild ride this year has been, huh Suns fans?

With all the ups and downs, it’s been a true rollercoaster. While true fans knew a leap was already on the horizon, this Suns squad continues to blow away any previous doubts.

A true culture change has come to the Valley. Winning basketball is back and a true identity has been born.

The future is bright and greatness is inevitable here in Phoenix. So what fun would it be to look back on this season’s successes and see just how we got here. Here at Suns Lead, Dylan and Cameron went back and compiled their own top-10 moments of the season.

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10. Overtime vs. Cleveland

Cameron: To start off our list, we are gonna talk about Mikal Bridges and this entire team’s defensive prowess. Remaining a solid top 10 all year, this Suns defense was put on full display in this OT. 

To start the extra period, it was all Bridges. He took over the game with two blocks, a steal, two threes and having his hands on just about everything else. This was one of those flashes of greatness Suns fans are expecting to see more consistently as time goes on. Because we all know, he is more than capable of elite-level play.

As for the rest of the team, they absolutely shut down the Cavs. Outscoring them 20-4 in the extra time, there was no sign of life or comeback on the horizon.

The whole squad went into total cruise control. Just one of those moments we got to see this team at its absolute best. 

Oh yeah, and this.

https://twitter.com/SunsLead/status/1389947205159571457

9. Stretch Where Ayton Was DominAYTON 

Cameron: “He got it. He just gotta go, you know, do it”

This was what Chris Paul had to say about what Deandre Ayton was doing during this particular stretch. This is also what every Suns fan has been saying to their TV and Twitter feed all year long. 

From around middle-to-late January, we were all looking at Ayton in a different light. Our former No. 1 overall pick was putting the ball on the ground and showing some assertiveness we hadn’t seen in weeks past. His finishing around the rim looked stronger than ever and he was truly taking control as that defensive anchor. Highlighting this stretch was the Jan. 20th game against the Rockets. 26 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks– all while locking down on defense and running the floor like the true big he is.

Definitely the true highlight of his year so far.

8. Two Suns All-Stars, Regardless of How They Got There

Dylan: If you have a winning team, you will see a player or two at All-Star weekend. Not since Steve Nash was running the show had the Suns been represented at the NBA All-Star game. Another sign of just how long the dark times have felt in Phoenix. While Book was out with an injury, to have both him and CP3 been named to the All-Star rosters still felt like the Suns have a winning team. If your team has multiple all-stars, they are doing something right.

Something that was also amazing to see was the respect Devin Booker has in the league. In 2019, he was regarded as one of the biggest snubs and got his first all-star nod thanks to Damian Lillard resting up and campaigning for Book to take his place. To see Book be snubbed yet again this year, to be named yet again as an all-star injury replacement, with the Suns AT THE TOP of the West, was even more of a massive outcry of wtf. Even LeBron James had to say something.

The respect Book — as well as the Suns — were being shown was another incredible moment of finally arriving as a contending team.

7. Devin Booker Game-Winner vs. Dallas 2/1

Cameron: It was a bumpy road to start the season. The starters weren’t meshing as well as we wanted them to at that point. Injuries had caused rotations to be all sorts of messed up. Also, we’ve yet to mention they already had games postponed due to COVID protocol. 

Finally, when all hope was feeling low, Book returned from a four-game absence due to a hamstring injury. Thus, bringing excitement back to fans. Quickly, Booker made his presence felt.

Reminding everyone, the Suns are here to stay.

6. Win in OT vs. Jazz on National TV to Start off April

Dylan: #1 vs #2. And the Suns were actually a part of this matchup. Not going against the other bottom-feeder in the league to get lottery odds, but to actually go for the top seed in the conference. This National TV matchup against the Jazz was one of the most hyped Suns games in a decade! The big three of Booker, CP3 and Ayton showed out and made a massive statement beating the Jazz in OT, pulling to within two games of the top seed.

5. First Time The Suns Got The No. 1 Seed

Cameron: The race felt finished after finally clinching that beloved playoff spot we were all dreaming about. Once the Suns finally captured the one seed, however, it was like the victory lap we all needed. It felt as though taking that best spot in the league brought everybody back into reality after making the playoffs.

We were riding high on life, all eyes on us– which meant the job was not finished. The work was still to be done and the team wasn’t letting up. Expectations continue to rise for the Suns, as making the playoffs is not the ceiling for this team. They want to go all the way. Capturing that one seed only showed the sky’s the limit.

4. CP3 Takeover vs. the Knicks

Dylan: Man does it feel good to have a good point guard. Over the course of the season, Chris Paul has proved how highly impactful he has on the game, and how smart of a decision it was for the Suns to acquire the older statesman. The game against the Knicks moved to the top of that list of reasons why. Phoenix was on the verge of faltering a grueling east-coast road trip until CP3 went into Point God mode.

https://twitter.com/SunsLead/status/1386906522135896067

He scored the final seven points for the Suns to close out the Knicks and solidify a winning road trip against the top teams in the East. CP3 proved the Suns have a point guard that can play at a high level and can come through in the clutch.

Something we also haven’t seen in a very, very long time.

3. Devin Booker Reaching 9,000 Points With Elite Company

Cameron: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Shaquille O’Neal and Anthony Davis.

This is the company Devin Booker joined as he was the 9th player ever to reach 9,000 points before turning 25. Elite scorers, all-around bucket-getters, and true artists of putting the ball into the basket. Achieving this feat at such a young age sat Booker among the greats of scoring.

Fitting in just right.

At just 24 years old, Book has already cemented himself as one of the most prolific scorers the NBA has to offer. Already at ninth on the Sun’s all-time scoring list, it’s safe to say it won’t be long until Booker is finding himself among the top of many Suns all-time lists. 

2. February Wins vs. Bucks AND Sixers

Dylan: You can argue this was the start of the emergence of the contending Suns. At the end of a long home streak, the Suns got to host two of the top teams in the East. The Bucks were up first, and even with Giannis exploding for 47, Booker and CP3 did just a bit more to top the Bucks in a thriller.

The very next game, Philly came to town and Booker made sure that game wasn’t going be as close. Book finished with 37, and in two consecutive games the Suns took down two of the top teams contending for a championship.

The first real sign this Suns team was for real.

1. Suns Clinch Postseason For The First Time in 11 Years

Dylan: It’s been a very, very, very, very long 11 years. The last time I can remember the Suns in the playoffs was when I was a senior in high school. Living in Maine, I stayed up those nights in hopes of the Suns playing for the title.

Instead, I watched Kobe do what Kobe does, give a good series tap to then head coach Alvin Gentry at the end of Game 6, and oust the Suns in six games of the Western Conference Finals. For nearly a decade since, the Suns have been like a lot of my college and post-grad decisions– just awful. To all of those memorable moments:

We wouldn’t be here without you…but BLESS THE F— UP you are all in the past!

Waking up on April 29th, seeing all the social-media posts and reaction to the Suns securing a spot in the playoffs, was euphoric. This Suns team finally broke through the massive, heinous, dark losing feeling for all those years to now be winners. No longer are Suns fans focusing on the draft to see where we hopefully fall and what hopeful superstar prospect we pick.

We can focus on playoff basketball, and just how far we can go into the postseason.

Cameron: Words can’t even begin to describe what it felt like to finally have had clinched a spot in the playoffs. It just feels like all the long years of getting our hopes up, riding into the season with some confidence, to ultimately be disappointed have finally paid off. The culture change in the last couple of years has been surreal and you can feel the energy around the city growing. Going to the store and seeing other people rocking Suns gear proudly. Clothing stores having multiple different sets of shirts right as you walk to celebrate the successes.

You can tell Phoenix is getting back to its old ways of supporting the Suns, and it’s just a joy to see. The future is bright for this franchise. Phoenix is back to the hot spot we all know and love, and it couldn’t feel any better.

To The Playoffs, We Go!

Well, there you have it, folks. What a joy it has been to follow this team and what a year it has been. But get ready, the ride is only getting started. Playoffs are among us and the highest level of play is yet to be seen. This Suns squad is going to face new challenges, and the path is only gonna get more difficult. In the end, with the pride and work ethic this team has shown all year, it doesn’t seem like there is no task they are not up for.

Follow us on Twitter @SunsLead for the latest Suns news and insight. 

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About Cameron Prichard

Twitter: @TheValleyAthltc

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