Inside the Numbers: Here Come the Suns
Posted Nov 10 2004 2:31PM
The revamped Suns are off to a scorching start to the 2004-05 season
Nov. 10 -- At 4-0, and 1½ games ahead of the Lakers in the Pacific Division as of Wednesday, the Phoenix Suns are off to a shade-your-eyes-it's-so-bright start. Tonight, the streaking Suns hope to make it five straight wins as they're in Cleveland to face LeBron James and the Cavaliers (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
At 106.5 points per game, the Suns lead the league in scoring average by three points over the equally impressive 4-0 Utah Jazz, who have tallied 103.5 points per game so far. Phoenix's output this season is 11 points better than their 95.5 points per game scoring average in 2003-04.
So, when did this begin? You could see it coming in the 2004 preseason when the Suns dipped under 100 points only once in their 7-1 preseason (a 99-93 win over Seattle), a preseason in which they averaged 106.9 points per game. Phoenix has finished the preseason at least 5-1 or better four other times in team history. Each time the team has made the playoffs.
If the Suns beat the Cavaliers, it will match Phoenix's best-ever start to a season. The Suns went 5-0 to start the 1984-85 season. The Suns made the playoffs that year, but the Lakers swept them in the first round.
RARELY TRAILING, WINNING BIG
One key to the Suns' first-week success has been their ability to get out in front. The Suns have never trailed after the first quarter, have never trailed by more than six points at any time during those four games and have trailed by a total of 9 minutes and 36 seconds.
In the meantime, the Suns have created grand canyons between themselves and their opponents. Phoenix led Atlanta by 40, Philly by 21, New Jersey by 34 and the Bulls by 23. The Suns have won their games by a silly 23.0 points per game.
The Suns' wins have been so easy no starter averages more than 33.8 minutes per game.
OFFENSIVELY, DOING EVERYTHING WELL
They're also not taking a lot of shots. As a matter of fact, the Suns have only taken 326 field goal attempts while their opponents have chucked up 353 field goal attempts, -27 differential.
What they're being is efficient. All five starters average in double figures with Stoudemire leading the way with 25.0 points per game. And taking away Quentin Richardson's .311 shooting percentage, the other four starters have shot .512 from the field (106-for-207). And in their first four games, the Suns have capitalized on those high percentage shots as they have averaged 42 points per game in the paint.
And while the Suns' efficient offensive output has been impressive, they've been even more impressive on the defensive end. The Suns have forced 18.5 turnovers per game, which has helped them average 15.0 fast break points per game.
Phoenix also leads the league in opponents' field goal percentage, holding foes to a meager .363 field goal percentage. And only Milwaukee, Dallas and Cleveland have better defensive 3-point percentages than the Suns, who have held opponents to a .224 clip from behind the arc.