Feb 16, 2024 - News

The Suns are finally playing like a contender

A basketball player looks to the side and points as he celebrates on the court.

Devin Booker in Tuesday's game against the Kings. Photo: Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images

As the Phoenix Suns head into the All-Star break, a team that once struggled to find its identity and rhythm amid injuries and a roster of unfamiliar faces is playing like a contender.

State of play: Wednesday's win against the Detroit Pistons bumped Phoenix's record to 33-22, tying them for fifth in the West with the New Orleans Pelicans.

  • They're three games back from the defending champion Denver Nuggets, who are only three games out of first place.

Why it matters: Three years after losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in the finals, the Suns are still trying to win their first championship.

Quick take: The team is in win-now mode as a result, but that window may not stay open much longer.

Catch up fast: Phoenix began the year amid a lot of hype, with Durant's first full season and Bradley Beal replacing Chris Paul to form the Suns' new Big Three.

  • But the Suns were plagued by early injuries, with Devin Booker, Durant and especially Beal missing significant time.
  • Between the injuries and the myriad other new players, the team struggled for much of the season's first half.

Yes, but: Since a Christmas Day loss dropped their record under .500, the Suns have bounced back.

  • They're 19-7 since, including a seven-game win streak in January.

Between the lines: Durant is playing like the MVP the team hoped for.

  • He's averaging 28.2 points per game — fifth in the league — and Booker is three spots behind him at 27.5 points per game.
  • Durant will start for the West in Sunday's All-Star game, and Booker is on the roster, too.

What they're saying: Ishbia is "really happy" with how the team has looked lately.

  • "We obviously have one really big goal in front of us and that's what the focus is. Every day, we're getting better and better," he said before Tuesday's win over Sacramento.

What we're watching: Beal injured his hamstring Tuesday and missed Wednesday's game against the Pistons.


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