If Dallas or Memphis took the time to check their rear-view mirror, they might get rear-ended by the streaking Suns in the standings.
Phoenix, however, is doing its best to make each game important by individualizing its importance, an approach that was worked to the tune of five victories over the last six games.
Atlanta – which has lost 10 of its last 16 games – is up next. Here are five things that will play a part in the outcome.
Defense This Time?
When these teams last met on March 2, the final score was 129-120, and no, there was no overtime period.
The Suns shot a scorching 55 percent from the field, much of which was boosted by a 79-point first half (not a typo).
Atlanta, however, was only slightly worse, shooting 52.4 percent, including 14-of-31 (45.2 percent) from downtown.
Odds are Head Coach Jeff Hornacek would like to see a better showing on the defensive side of the game.
Crashing the Boards
The Hawks are third-worst in the league in rebounding at exactly 40 boards per contest. Al Horford’s absence (torn pectoral muscle) hasn’t helped in that department, elaving Paul Millsap (8.2 rpg) and DeMarre Carroll (5.5 rpg) as the team’s leading glass-eaters.
The matchup offers a good opportunity for Phoenix to continue their good work on the boards after winning that battle by five at Minnesota last night.
Bledsoe & Green
Eric Bledsoe’s rise (22.0 ppg, 5.0 apg, 5.0 rpg in last two games) has coincided with a short-term decline from Gerald Green (13.0 ppg, 36.8 percent shooting), who has shifted back to the bench since Bledsoe’s return.
Green has proven to be invaluable for Phoenix, especially as a three-point threat and running on the break, to let a slump affect him for too long.
Phoenix, however, no doubt wants to see both guards perform well on the same night.
The Suns’ guard tandem is restored, but Bledsoe and Dragic will need to respect the threat posed by Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver of the Hawks.
Teague shredded Phoenix for 29 points, nine assists and six rebounds in their last meeting, while Korver – the league’s leading three-point shooter – broke free for six makes on 10 attempts from beyond the arc.
After a rough shooting start to the month, the Slovenian playmaker has gotten back on track, hitting 54 percent of his shots (including 44.4 percent from three) over the last five games.
His defense has also been more disruptive, coming up with eight steals over the last four contests.