The NBA’s best team since the season restarted seemed lucky to be invited to the Disney World complex at all. The Suns were 26-39 when the hiatus began and stuck in 13th place in the Western Conference. With five straight wins, they are the only unbeaten team in Orlando and are now in serious contention for a playoff spot.
“I could give you some coach-speak, but I don’t know,” coach Monty Williams said to Nick Friedell of ESPN after Saturday’s win over Miami. “I just think we have a group that wanted to come here and prove to the world that they were worthy of being here. They heard a lot of the stuff being said. I think when people say stuff about you, you want to prove them wrong. … We’ve been competitive all year; we’ve been a scrappy team. We play teams hard, we share the ball, we try to make the right plays. We’ve tried to stick to our DNA and not get outside of that.”
The Suns are a half-game behind the Trail Blazers for ninth place and a spot in the play-in series next weekend, and two games back of the eighth-place Grizzlies. It’s the first five-game winning streak for Phoenix since 2014, but with tough games left against the Thunder, Sixers and Mavericks, the players know they might have to stay perfect to break their postseason drought.
“A lot of guys grew up in these three or four months,” Ricky Rubio said. “It seems like a second season with all of them with the same coach, and it helps to see the growth with this team. We have more room to improve … but we have eight games, and we know we have to go 8-0.”
There’s more Suns news to pass along:
- After Saturday’s game, Devin Booker reacted to Draymond Green‘s comments that he should force his way out of Phoenix to play for a winning organization, Friedell writes in the same story. “Since I’ve been in Phoenix, we haven’t had the win success that we had, but the support’s been there,” Booker said. “And this is what we owe to the fans, we owe to the organization. It’s been a long time for us and I think this bubble opportunity was big for us, and we’re taking advantage of it.”
- One of the surprises has been the emergence of second-year guard Jevon Carter, who hit six 3-pointers and scored 20 points last night, Friedell adds. Carter was acquired from the Grizzlies in a minor trade last summer.
- The Suns could have had the leading scorer in Orlando, but opted to ship T.J. Warren to the Pacers last offseason for cash and draft picks in a three-team deal. During a recent appearance on TNT, Warren called the trade “disrespectful,” saying, “No one wants to get traded for cash.” (hat tip to Adam Stratton of Valley of the Suns).