by Micah Hart
As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the Phoenix Suns, who played three straight from Mar. 14-16.
The Phoenix Suns’ season can pretty easily be summed up by their two entries in the three for all challenge. In their first foray back in February, Phoenix went winless, part of a four-game skid that saw the team fall a season-worst seven games under .500 after a loss to the Lakers on Feb. 17.
That game must have shook something loose in the desert, because ever since the Suns have been scorching, winning 10 of 13 games and moving all the way back to .500 on the season at the culmination of their second threeplay:
Game 1: Suns 120, Jazz 111 – Part of the reason for the Suns’ success has been the production the team has been getting from up and down the roster. To wit: Channing Frye dropped a season-high 26 points (with nine rebounds), Marcin Gortat had 25, and Jared Dudley had 21 in the win over the Jazz. 1 point
Game 2: Suns 91, Clippers 87 – Home win over the Jazz? Not bad, but nothing special. Road win over the Clippers? Now that’s a nice win, despite how weird it makes me feel to write that sentence. Oh, and did I mention they did it without Grant Hill and Steve Nash, who picked up DNP-OMs (Did Not Play – Old Men)? Seriously. Sebastian Telfair started this game. Crazy season indeed. 4 points (3 for win, 1 for road)
Game 3: Suns 109, Pistons 101 – I give Bassy credit for holding down the fort while Nash took the night off against LAC, and the rest paid off for Steve as he dished out 17 dimes, tied for a season high, against Detroit. Back to what I was saying earlier about contributions from everywhere? Robin Lopez had 14 points off the bench in this one, and Michael Redd had 11. If I so much as get a hangnail from now on, I’m going to Phoenix to have the Suns’ medical staff take a look at it. 5 points
It’s not so long ago that everyone was proclaiming this a lost season in Phoenix, and up until Thursday’s trade deadline many were holding out hope that the #FreeSteveNash movement would mercifully spring Canada’s finest from his Arizona prison.
Instead, the Suns join the Heat, Bulls, and Thunder (owners of the league’s three best records) as the only teams to go undefeated in the three play, and in doing so moved into 9th place in the Western Conference playoff chase, just two games behind the Nuggets, who just traded for JaVale McGee, so good luck with that. 10 points for the Suns, and total redemption for their first effort a month ago. This could be a playoff team after all.
Up next: The Clippers take their second crack at the triumvirate, playing three straight Mar. 20-22.
Three for all Top Ten:
— Miami Heat (15 points)
— Chicago Bulls (13 points)
— OKC Thunder (12 points)
— Phoenix Suns II (10 points)
— New Jersey Nets II (8 points)
— Atlanta Hawks (8 points)
— Houston Rockets (7 points)
— Portland Trail Blazers (6 points)
— L.A. Clippers (6 points)
— Philadelphia 76ers (6 points)