Phoenix Suns Defense is Key to Four-Game Winning Streak

Devin Booker T.J. Warren
by Cody Cunningham

After a slow start to the season, the Phoenix Suns have caught fire as they take an NBA-leading four-game winning streak into their Saturday matchup against the Washington Wizards. 

This is the Suns longest winning streak since March of 2015 and much of the credit goes to their work on the defensive end of the court. They have won the last four games by an average margin of plus-11 points, outscoring opponents 111.3-100.3 and limiting opponents to just 41.3 percent from the field.

The first two wins of the streak came at home when the Suns held both the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves under 100 points. In those two games, they became the first team in NBA history to hold opponents to under 20 percent shooting from three-point range (Mavericks – 15 percent, Timberwolves – 20 percent). 

The Suns then hit the road to the New York where the Knicks still only managed to make 25 percent of their shots from deep.

It’s been the team’s second half adjustments that have really highlighted their improvements on the defensive end, while still being efficient on offense throughout their previous two games on the road.

The Suns were down by seven in New York at halftime, but came out focused and ready to take control of the game. They outscored the Knicks 41-17 in the third quarter on Monday, ending the period on a 29-6 run, including the quarter’s final 12 points.  

The plus-24 differential in the quarter was the Suns’ largest in any period since also outscoring Philadelphia 41-17 in the second quarter on Nov. 21, 2014. It marked the third-largest third quarter margin in Suns history, trailing only a plus-28 (49-21) third quarter vs. Miami on December 29, 1990, and a plus-26 (46-20) third quarter vs. Minnesota on January 21, 2007. 

The Suns continued their third-quarter success against the Boston Celtics, holding them to just 18 points in the period.

In the third quarter of the first two games on the road trip, the Suns are outscoring their opponents by +16.5 points per period with an average margin of 34.0-17.5. The Suns are shooting 28-of-49 (57.1%) from the field and 6-of-15 (40.0%) from three-point range while holding their opponents to 11-of-44 (25.0%) from the field and 4-of-20 (20.0%) from deep.

T.J. Warren has been huge in these second-half adjustments, averaging 14 points on 70% shooting during the third quarter of the previous two games.

The Suns are currently tied with the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks for the longest winning streak in the NBA. They will look to make it five straight wins as they travel to Washing to face the Wizards on Saturday. It would be their first five-game winning streak since December of 2014.

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