The Phoenix Suns, the NBA’s top team in the Western Conference, have had a recent trend of allowing commanding leads to dwindle in the third quarter. However, after their win against San Antonio, Suns coach Monty Williams praised Torrey Craig for his contribution off the bench. Craig was the Suns’ most efficient player, contributing to their 15-0 run in the second half of the game. Craig has adjusted well back into his sixth-man role, replacing the former starting four-man Cameron Johnson in October 2021. Despite Craig’s impressive performance, the Suns need to address their underwhelming third-quarter performances to continue their winning streak.
Third-quarter performances let Suns down
The Phoenix Suns are currently the NBA’s top team in the Western Conference, with 50 wins and 21 losses. The Suns have the NBA’s longest current winning streak, winning their last 10 games, but have a recent trend of allowing commanding leads to dwindle in the third quarter. On Tuesday, following their 21-point win over San Antonio, Suns coach Monty Williams praised Torrey Craig for his contribution off the bench.
Craig has adjusted well to his sixth-man role, replacing the former starting four-man Cameron Johnson in October 2021. In Kevin Durant’s return from injury, Craig has played in the Suns’ past four games and has contributed significantly to the team.
Against San Antonio, Craig poured in 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and just one turnover in 25 minutes. This resulted in a 28 plus-minus, the highest among all players. Within the third quarter’s final minutes, Craig caught an alley-oop assisted by Ish Wainright and stripped Sandro Mamukelashvili then finished with a breakaway two-fisted dunk, contributing to the Suns’ 15-0 run.
Craig’s adjustment back into his sixth-man role has helped the Suns since their fifth starting role with the Suns’ Big Four went to Josh Okogie. Craig is happy to do whatever he needs to do for the team, saying that “it’s all just part of being a pro” and that he is “just blessed to be in this league.”
Addressing third-quarter performances
While Craig’s impressive performance saved the Suns from another underwhelming third-quarter performance, the team still needs to address this issue. Against San Antonio, the Suns’ Big Four, including Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton, combined for 55 of their 69 points in the first half. However, the Suns’ shooting dropped off in the second half, and they only scored 28 points in the third quarter, letting the lead get to single digits.
This same issue also occurred against the West’s top team Denver Nuggets, which didn’t have four of its top players, including two-time MVP Nikola Jokic last Friday. At Oklahoma City on Sunday, the Suns had a 20-point lead at one point, which fell as low as five points in the third.
To continue their winning streak, the Suns need to address their underwhelming third-quarter performances. “It’s huge. The more possessions that we can get with our offensive firepower, the better. We’re gonna need that, especially in the playoffs,” said Craig. The Suns need to work on their third-quarter performances to continue their winning streak and have a chance to win the NBA championship.
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Despite a recent trend of allowing commanding leads to dwindle in the third quarter, Phoenix Suns’ Torrey Craig rescued his team from underwhelming third-quarter performances. Craig’s contribution off the bench resulted in a 15-0 run and helped the team secure their 10th consecutive win