Why The Suns Have Been Awful ATS At Home Lately

The Suns have dropped nine of their last 10 home games against the spread

Brett Farmiloe, Flickr
  • The Phoenix Suns have taken their backers on a roller coaster ride this season. The Suns are 27-30 against the spread. While the Suns have covered a respectable 16 of their 29 road games, they are merely 11-17-1 ATS at home.

  • The Suns’ ineptitude at covering spreads at home really only started right after the new year. The Suns held a 10-8-1 home ATS record following their home victory against the New York Knicks on January 3rd. Since that win, the Suns have failed to cover the spread in nine of their last 10 home games.

  • This recent stretch of ATS home failures by the Suns cannot primarily be attributed to injuries. The Suns’ core of Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, Kelly Oubre, and Ricky Rubio played together in nine of the ten home games at issue. The Suns’ home schedule during this stretch has been fairly easy as six of the ten teams that the Suns faced were sub-.500 teams.

  • The most compelling explanation for the Suns’ recent ATS struggles at home is that they have not been able to generate any offense from the three-point line. The Suns’ defense also did not perform well during this stretch given the offensive limitations of their opposition.

Three-Point Woes

The only home game that the Suns covered during this stretch was a 36-point victory over the Houston Rockets on February 7th. In that game, the Suns hit 15 of the 31 three-point shots that they attempted on their way to a 127-91 win. Unfortunately for Suns backers, the game against the Rockets has been a complete outlier.

Besides the Rockets’ game, the Suns have not been able to shoot accurately from the three-point line at home. In their nine other home games, the Suns only connected successfully on 77 of the 245 three-point shots that they attempted for a three-point field goal percentage of 31.4%. The Suns only averaged 8.5 three-point point field goals in that span. On the season, the Suns have hit 34.9% of the three-point shots that they have attempted and average 10.9 three-point field goals per game.

The fact that the Suns only attempted 245 three-point shots for an average of 27.2 three-point field goal attempts per game in the nine-game sample is also concerning. Phoenix’s average three-pointers made per game and three-point field goals attempted during this stretch would rank last in the NBA under both metrics when extrapolated to an entire season. The Suns’ offense is simply not strong enough in the paint to cover spreads without shooting and hitting three-point shots. The Suns rank in the bottom half of the NBA in terms of points scored in the paint.

Poor Defensive Showings

On paper, the Suns defense performed adequately during this stretch of ATS home failures. The Suns surrendered an average of 107.8 points per contest during their last ten home games, which is actually better than their season average of 113.5 points surrendered per game. However, a closer examination reveals that the Suns did not perform particularly well defensively given the quality of the offenses that they faced.

The Suns only played two teams during this stretch with a top-10 offensive efficiency rating. The Suns allowed six of their opponents to post an offensive rating of over 114 for the game. To put this number in context, the Milwaukee Bucks are the third-most offensively-efficient team in the league with a rating of 113.5. The Suns’ defense effectively made most of their opponents look like the Bucks on the offensive end.

Looking Ahead

It has been expensive to back the Suns at home since the new year. However, it would be a mistake for bettors to completely give up on the Suns’ ability to cover spreads in their last 12 home games. The Suns’ defensive flaws will likely persist for the remainder of the season. The Suns rank in the bottom 10 in average opponent points in the paint per game. They rank in the bottom 10 in average opponent field goal percentage. There is little reason to believe that the Suns’ defense will improve dramatically in their final 12 home games.

However, bettors can expect the Suns to perform better offensively in their last 12 home games. The Suns averaged 13.7 three-point field goals per game in 12 home games in October and November and averaged 11.7 three-point field goals per game in 6 home games in December. Phoenix, on average, attempted more than 35 three-pointers a game in their home games before the new year. The Suns were effectively an average to above-average three-point shooting team at home before this recent stretch ATS home failures. If they’re able to shoot three-pointers like they did in their first 18 home games, there’s no reason why they can’t turn it around.

As noted above, it would be foolish to blame the Suns’ nightmare ATS home stretch on injuries, as the Suns’ core was healthy for the most part. However, role players like Cameron Johnson and Aron Baynes have returned from injuries that sidelined them for part of this stretch. While Johnson and Baynes are not great players in any fashion, they average a combined eight three-point field goal attempts per game and stretch the floor. They should provide the Suns with additional offensive juice off the bench as well. 

While the defensive issues are real, don’t count out Phoenix’s offense and give up on the team as a whole.