After a rough stretch of performances, the Phoenix Suns have quietly started to put things together. Now, the team will get prepared for the hopeful return of their superstar forward.
Since being acquired from the Brooklyn Nets at the NBA trade deadline, superstar Kevin Durant has only appeared in three games with the team. In those three games, the Suns have posted a perfect 3-0 record in convincing fashion. A targeted return date for Durant has been set for Wednesday, March 29 at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. One player who is excited to have Durant return to the court is fellow superstar Devin Booker.
After Monday night’s impressive 117-103 road victory against the Utah Jazz, Booker spoke with Duane Rankin of AZCentral.com about how excited he is to get Durant back in the mix.
“Yeah I think it’s good timing. Playoffs are right around the corner, so it’s good time to be full strength. We obviously have some kinks to work out and we can only do that by experience, playing with each other. Our first three games went really well. I’m excited to get back to that.”
Suns Look to Finish Season Strong with Durant Returning to Lineup
The Suns have just seven games remaining in the regular season. After a brutal 0-3 road trip that included a couple of blown leads, it looks as if a return home was just what the team needed.
Phoenix is coming off two consecutive wins in impressive fashion. They took care of business on Saturday, March 25 in a convincing 125-105 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. After last night’s 117-103 win on the road against the Utah Jazz, it looks as if the Suns have suddenly started to generate some momentum at the perfect time.
All signs point to Durant returning to the team for the their Western Conference showdown against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, March 29. It will be a crucial game on the schedule for both the Suns and Timberwolves, as Minnesota is just 1.5 games back of the Suns for fourth place in the West.
While Phoenix will be looking to secure the fourth seed as the season winds down, it’s not the only thing the Suns need to focus on. The team will have just seven games to potentially gel with Durant in the lineup before the playoffs start. While Durant is a sensational talent, chemistry is still needing to be developed before the grueling grind of the playoffs.
Phoenix Bench Continues to Step Up
The Suns have been looking to get a spark in their rotation while Durant has been out of the lineup. During the teams previous road trip, head coach Monty Williams looked to be aggressive with his rotation, trying to find the necessary boost for the Suns moving forward.
It’s presented a valuable opportunity for Williams to give some extended trust to the Suns bench. An opportunity that Williams himself admitted might not have been possible if it wasn’t for Durant’s injury.
“I don’t think I would have played T.J. (Warren) the way I am playing him now had Kevin (Durant) not gone down, even though you don’t want guys to get hurt, we are learning some things about T.J. and Terrence (Ross) and getting Landry (Shamet) back.”
That added trust paid off in a big way for the Suns on Monday night against the Utah Jazz. After an impressive 18-point first quarter from Devin Booker, it looked as if Phoenix would lean on their star to attempt to pick up a tough road win.
Eventually, the Suns bench would take over in the second half. TJ Warren would pitch in nine points on 4-of-9 shooting in just 21 minutes. Veteran wing Terrence Ross would find his groove as well, finishing with 13 points and five rebounds. Phoenix will have one of the most dangerous starting lineups when healthy, but they will need their bench to step up especially with the playoffs just around the corner.