The Phoenix Suns came into the Orlando bubble as nothing more than a laughed at afterthought.
They were the person at the party who’s looked at by other people with that unmistakeable “who invited that” look. But Monty Williams’ Suns were invited to the party and are taking full advantage.
Seen as having the same chance of making the NBA playoffs as your local rec team, Phoenix has won all six games it’s played at the restart, including a 128-101 comeback blowout of the short-handed Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. The Suns now trail Portland by a half game and Memphis by one game for the 8th and 9th seed in the Western Conference necessary to qualify for this weekend’s play-in tournament.
Before the NBA restarted play on July 30, the Suns were listed as an astronomical +5500 to make the playoffs, per FanDuel, and now have an outside shot at paying off big for those bold enough to put down some cash on a Phoenix longshot.
The Suns beat fellow afterthought Washington in its first bubble game, but the only narrative surrounding the team at that point was the play of T.J. Warren. Phoenix traded him to Indiana for cash following last season, and all Warren did was drop 53 points on Philadelphia in the Pacers’ first game and he hasn’t stopped balling since.
But Phoenix didn’t stop balling either, beating Dallas despite 40 points from Luka Doncic and then getting a Devin Booker turnaround buzzer-beater to shock the Los Angeles Clippers to move to 3-0 in Orlando.
That got some people talking, including Dwyane Wade on TNT, saying that the Suns were a dark horse because they didn’t really have anything to lose anyway.
Phoenix wasn’t done yet, getting a 20-point, 10-rebound effort from DeAndre Ayton to beat Warren and Indiana by 15 to go to 4-0. And with Jimmy Butler, former Sun Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn sitting for Miami, Booker scored 35 and Phoenix beat the Heat by seven to go to 5-0.
The odds are still long for Phoenix to even get to the play-in game. It was still 5.9% before Monday’s win over OKC, per ESPN. The Suns will be playing Philadelphia without Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on Tuesday, but they’ll still have to win that game, beat Dallas again on Thursday and hope either Portland or Memphis really slip up. And if they make the play-in tournament, they’ll have to win both on Saturday and Sunday to improbably reach the postseason.
But the Phoenix Suns have been playing with house money during their entire stay in Orlando, and could be just four wins away from making some long-short bettors an absurd amount of cash.