Does a Hot Start by the Suns Equal a Great Finish?

Does a Hot Start by the Suns Equal a Great Finish?
By Christopher Boan
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

It’s been an up-and-down start to the year for the Phoenix Suns, who sit at 8-4 and atop the NBA’s Pacific Division by 1.5 games entering Monday’s game against Miami.

Monty Williams' bunch has notched wins over the L.A. Lakers, L.A. Clippers, Dallas and Golden State this season.

Phoenix is looking to one-up last year’s campaign, when it captured a franchise record 64 victories, before falling to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Sportsbooks in Arizona are strong on the Suns.

Entering Monday’s games, Phoenix finds itself with the fourth-best NBA title futures on BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona at +750 — coming in behind Boston and Milwaukee (+500 each), and the Warriors (+700).

BetArizona.com broke down each of the Suns’ previous 10 seasons, in addition to the team’s best starts dating back to their opening season in 1968, to offer some Arizona NBA betting insight for the rest of the season.

Suns 12-Game Starts, Last 10 Years

  • 2022: 8-4 (Finish TBD)
  • 2021: 9-3 (64-18, lost in Western Conference Semis)
  • 2020: 7-5 (51-21, lost in NBA Finals)
  • 2019: 7-5 (34-39, missed playoffs)
  • 2018: 2-10 (19-63, missed playoffs)
  • 2017: 4-8 (21-61, missed playoffs)
  • 2016: 3-9 (24-58, missed playoffs)
  • 2015: 7-5 (23-59, missed playoffs)
  • 2014: 7-5 (39-43, missed playoffs)
  • 2013: 6-6 (48-32, missed playoffs)

Suns Best Starts Through 12 Games

  • 1980: 11-1 (57-25, lost in Western Conference Semis)
  • 2004: 10-2 (62-20, lost in WC Finals)
  • 2007: 10-2 (55-27, lost in WC First Round)
  • 2021: 9-3 (64-18, lost WC Semis)
  • 2000: 9-3 (51-31, lost in WC First Round)
  • 1997: 9-3 (56-26, lost in WC First Round)
  • 1994: 9-3 (59-23, lost in WC Semis)
  • 1993: 9-3 (56-26, lost in WC Semis)
  • 1982: 9-3 (53-29, lost in WC First Round)
  • 2022: 8-4 (Finish TBD)
  • 2008: 8-4 (46-36, lost in WC Finals)
  • 1999: 8-4 (53-29, lost in WC Finals)
  • 1992: 8-4 (62-20, lost in NBA Finals)
  • 1990: 8-4 (55-27, lost in WC First Round)
  • 1984: 8-4 (36-46, lost in WC First Round)
  • 1978: 8-4 (50-32, lost in WC Finals)

How This Year’s Suns Team Stacks Up Historically

This year’s 8-4 start ranks in a tie for 10th among best 12-game opening stretches in franchise history.

Though Devin Booker and company haven’t opened as successfully as John MacLeod’s 1980-81 Suns team, they do find themselves in the thick of the NBA Playoff hunt.

Even more impressive is this year’s Suns have raced out to an 8-4 start largely without the services of guards Chris Paul and Landry Shamet, who have missed games with injuries.

Paul has missed the team’s last two games with a heel injury suffered in the team’s 100-88 loss to Philadelphia on Nov. 7. He’s watched from the sidelines as Phoenix has split its last two games — beating Minnesota (129-117) and losing to Orlando (114-97).

The 12-time NBA All-Star is questionable to return to the court when the Suns play Miami on Monday.

Whether Paul is in or out of the lineup, this year’s Suns squad has held its own, averaging 115.5 points per game while ranking in a tie with Cleveland for the largest point differential per game in the league, at 7.0.

What might be even better news for Suns fans is the team’s three NBA Finals clubs all started 8-4 or worse, meaning they’re in good shape out of the gate this fall.

The franchise’s worst 12-game start in a playoff season was in 1991, when they stumbled to a 4-8 opening stretch, before finishing 53-29 and advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals.  

The Suns’ previous NBA title teams went 7-5 (2020-21), 8-4 (1992-93), and 6-6 (1975-76) to open the year — giving fans, Arizona sports betting apps and players a level of hope as Phoenix enters the heart of its 82-game regular season schedule.

That road begins on Monday in Miami before Phoenix crosses the country to host the Warriors on ESPN on Wednesday night.

After that, the Suns play six of their next eight games at home, against New York, the Lakers, Detroit, Utah, Chicago and Houston.

Such a stretch could be key for the Suns to build on their solid start, getting Phoenix into prime playoff contention as the calendar flips to 2023.

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Contributors

Christopher Boan is the lead writer at BetArizona.com after covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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