The Phoenix Suns appear to be getting comfortable at home again and will put their run of strong play up against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.
The Suns have won five of their last six games, including two consecutive at home, to open a seven-game stretch in the desert. While the Cavaliers have been off their game of late, the Suns do have the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets on the upcoming home schedule.
In order to not overlook the Cavaliers, who have lost three consecutive games and five of their last six, the Suns will look to match their effort from Sunday in a 100-91 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Phoenix had to hang on for the victory after leading by as many as 17 in the third quarter. A balanced Suns attack had five players in double figures, including four starters. Mikal Bridges led the way with 19 points, while Devin Booker had 18.
Cameron Johnson had 17 points, while Suns big man Deandre Ayton had 16 points with 11 rebounds. Point guard Chris Paul had 15 points, but it was Booker who took more of a distributor role with 11 assists to Paul’s two.
Ayton, whose energy has come into question at times this season, was the target of head coach Monty Williams’ wrath in the third quarter but responded well to help close out the Celtics.
“He has unreal talent and it’s not me getting on him, it’s calling him up to the talent that he has, and he responded,” Williams said.
The Suns won in front of an intimate gathering of 1,493 fans, the first time Phoenix has played in front of an audience for a home game this season.
“Oh, it was lit; time to put on a show,” Ayton said. “It’s was great to actually hear fans instead of the (recorded) audio.”
The Cavaliers will enter Monday’s game after dropping consecutive games to the Milwaukee Bucks at home. Andre Drummond had 28 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday’s 124-99 loss to Milwaukee. They fell by 18 points to the Bucks on Friday.
There were signs of hope when the Cavaliers defeated the Brooklyn Nets in consecutive games last month, but since then, they have gone 2-7.
Collin Sexton and Darius Garland had 17 points each Saturday for the Cavaliers, who went 1-3 on a four-game home stretch and are now starting a five-game road trip against Western Conference teams.
At the start of the new year, the Cavaliers were competitive by playing solid defense and will look to repeat that effort on the road trip.
“I don’t see why we can’t do it,” Drummond said. “We’ve done it before so it’s just a matter of getting that engine going again and watching what we do really well to get that back into our head. That this is what we need to do to be a good defensive team.”
Cleveland’s Kevin Love, who has not played since Dec. 27 because of a calf injury, might make his return during the road trip. He has missed 22 consecutive games but was working out on the court before Saturday’s game.
–Field Level Media