In Case You Haven't Noticed, The Phoenix Suns Still Haven't Lost With Kevin Durant In The Lineup
As we enter the final week of the NBA season, there's a lot of shit going on in the West at the moment. The Mavs continue to implode and are looking more and more like a team destined for the Lottery, the Thunder could end up with a home Play In game, the Pelicans and Lakers seem to be back from the dead (both 7-3 over their last 10), the Warriors still stink out loud on the road (now 9-30), and then there's the Phoenix Suns and Kevin Durant.
After taking care of OKC on the road last night, the Suns now sit at 43-35 and in the 4 spot with a 2.5 game (3 loss) lead over the Clippers. With pretty much every other team in the league, we have a general idea of who they are, how they play, and how things look with their current collection of talent. With the Suns, it's a little different.
When they pulle the trigger on the Kevin Durant trade, it changed the landscape of the NBA. I think you could call the Suns contenders before that trade, but that addition moved them into the "favorite" category. Whatever happened before didn't matter, because now you have Kevin Durant
Unfortunately, we haven't really seen much of KD as a Sun since that trade. He was hurt at the deadline, and then rolled his ankle during warmups in early March and basically missed the rest of the month. But he came back on Wednesday and you'll never believe this, but he looks like the same guy who never got hurt
I think this may be one of the more impressive things when it comes to KD. Even at his age, with all these basketball miles on his body, he comes back from injury and it's as if it never happened. It could be his achilles, his MCL, an ankle, it just doesn't seem to matter once he steps foot on the floor again. That's awesome for anyone who enjoys watching an all time great player.
Here's what you probably haven't noticed (unless you're a Suns fan) that will for sure impact what we see over the next few weeks. Did you know the Suns have not lost a game yet with KD in the lineup? The sample might be small, but 6-0 is 6-0. They went into Dallas and won (before the implosion). They beat the Nuggets (without Jokic, but still). As a matter of fact, if you look at just the games KD has played in since he was on the Nets, he's currently on a 25-2 run since 11/27. That's uh….pretty good I suppose.
It's hard to argue that a single player moves the needle in terms of wins/losses more than a healthy Kevin Durant. That's what made the trade to the Suns such a big deal. The transition has been flawless, and that's not really surprising considering KD is basically system-proof. It doesn't matter how you play or what your system is, you can slide KD and not miss a beat. He'll adapt. The on/off numbers are pretty silly so far
On the court: 115.8 Ortg / 104.8 Drtg
Off the court: 116.5 Ortg / 114.1 Drtg
The defense is what truly stands out, because that's the shit that's going to matter in a week, and that's what makes the Suns go up a level. That 104.8 rating would be the best in the NBA for an entire season if you were curious, and just last night we saw the type of impact KD can make on that end, especially late.
I don't know about any of you, but one look at how things stand at the moment in that conference
and I think we all want to see what certainly looks more and more possible by the day. Give us PHX/GS in the first round. Two of the final three Warriors games are on the road, but that just means I need Adam Silver to pull a David Stern and make sure we get the matchup that EVERYONE should want. The Suns won the season series 3-1, but KD missed the last game (GS won 123-112) on March 13th, and every time these two teams match up it's always worth the price of admission. Add in this new look Suns team that might never actually lose with KD heading into his old stomping grounds and I'm not sure how anyone isn't rooting for that to be how things shake out.
With a week to go, all I am asking for is for the entire league to be injury free. We're so close. Let us have what should be the most wide open playoffs in recent memory with everyone at full strength. Please.