Written By: Trevor Lightfoot @TrevorLightfoot
For the past few seasons the Suns have been in a bit of a playoff drought. Sure there have been a couple of close calls, but by and large it feels like the team has been in a state of perpetual mediocrity for the better part of a decade. Maybe what the Suns need is some good old-fashioned inspiration to heat them up. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 playoff performances in Phoenix Suns history. Here are the guidelines:
- The performance must result in a Suns victory
- If there is a team or NBA record set, then the performance makes the list
- Any playoff game is eligible, whether it is the first round or the finals
Number 5. Kevin Johnson: 1993 Finals: Game 3
Stats: 25 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, 1 block,
This game was exhausting, gut wrenching, and enthralling. If you don’t believe me, you can watch the entire 173 minutes of the game on YouTube. The Phoenix Suns traveled to the Madhouse on Madison and went toe-to-toe with MJ’s Chicago Bulls. The Suns escaped the triple-overtime game with a victory thanks in large part to the impassioned performance by point guard Kevin Johnson. You may be saying to yourself, “25 points in 63 minutes of game time is not very impressive”. And that’s precisely the point. Out of a possible 63 minutes, Johnson played an NBA Finals record of 62 minutes while managing the most important game of the season on the biggest stage against the best player in the game.
Number 4. Rex Chapman: 1997 Western Conference First Round: Game 1
Stats: 42 points 4 rebounds, 2 assists
On this fateful day in 1997, Rex Chapman set not only a Suns record, but an NBA record for 3-pointers made in a playoff game with nine. Why is this a big deal? This record has withstood the test of time (so far), matched on just four occasions and yet to be surpassed. I can’t help but wonder how tired Al McCoy was from yelling “Shazam!” that night.
Number 3. Goran “Dragon” Dragic: 2010 Western Conference Semifinals: Game 3
Stats: 26 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Today, Goran Dragic is the ultra talented starting point guard for the Miami Heat, but in 2010 he was the unknown backup to MVP point guard Steve Nash. Over the course of one single quarter against the San Antonio Spurs, Dragic became known as the “Dragon” and put on one of the single greatest playoff performances in Suns history.
Number 2. Steve Nash: 2005 Western Conference Semifinals: Game 6
Stats: 39 points, 9 rebounds, 12 assists
Steve Nash was a man on a mission during the 2005 playoffs. He played as if he was consumed by the promise of eternal greatness, averaging an unbelievable 24 points and 11.3 assists throughout the 2005 playoffs. Nash’s performance reached a pinnacle during game 6 in which he led the Suns to win the game and reach the Western Conference Finals.
Number 1. Charles Barkley: 1993 Western Conference Finals: Game 7
Stats: 44 points, 24 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
Sir Charles put the entire Suns team on his shoulders and dragged them to victory for arguably one of the greatest performances in NBA playoff history. During the game, Barkley displayed unprecedented dominance on the glass, finishing with 10 offensive and 14 defensive rebounds. Legend has it that is was this performance that led the aliens of Moron Mountain to steal Barkley’s talents in a valiant attempt to imprison Michael Jordan. He scored 44 points the hard way, only taking (and making) one three-pointer. The remaining buckets came from 12 field goals and 19 free throws.
Steve Nash: 2005 Western Conference Semifinals: Game 4
Stats: 44 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
Charles Barkley: 1993 Finals: Game 4
Stats: 32 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
Bonus Barkley: 1994 Western Conference First Round: Game 3
Stats: 56 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
“Thunder” Dan Majerle: 1993 Western Conference Semifinals: Game 5
Stats: 34 points (8 three-pointers), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block