Coach of the Bubble: Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns
In the eternal words of Dante from Clerks, the Phoenix Suns aren’t even supposed to be here.
They arrived at the bubble six games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the West and behind four other teams vying to make the play-in tournament. But rather than play with “1-2-3 Cancun!” energy, the Suns have reeled off six straight wins to force their way into the playoff conversation.
That’s a testament to head coach Monty Williams, who got his young team focused on the task at hand.
“You’re really giving me a lot of credit, man,” Willams said after the Suns’ 119-112 victory over the Miami Heat on Saturday, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “I don’t really know. I could give you some coach-speak, but I don’t know. I just think we have a group that wanted to come here and prove to the world that they were worthy of being here. They heard a lot of the stuff being said. I think when people say stuff about you, you want to prove them wrong. If I had to guess that would be it, but this is who we are.”
Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton have anchored the Suns through their surge up the Western Conference standings, although they’ve also gotten notable contributions from Cameron Johnson, Mikal Bridges, Ricky Rubio, Dario Saric and Cam Payne.
Even if the Suns’ unlikely playoff push falls short, they’ve generated some positive momentum to build upon heading into next season. Add another lottery pick to this core—not to mention Kelly Oubre Jr.., who has yet to play in the bubble as he recovers from a torn meniscus—and the Suns could be right back in the playoff conversation next season.