Sport Cause for optimism as injured Suns finally rise
NBA Playoffs 2021: Chris Paul leads balanced offence as big second-half run helps Suns comfortably clinch Game 1
After averaging just 9.2 points in the first round of the 2021 postseason, Chris Paul finished with 21 points in Game 1, including in the fourth quarter alone, as the Suns comfortably clinched Game 1 by turning the game on its head with a monster 39-12 run in the second half.Led by their starters, who combined for 99 of their total points, the young team flipped the game on its head with a huge second-half run and eventually cruised to a 122-105 win to take a 1-0 series lead.
The Gold Coast Suns injury list may have looked horrific earlier in the season, but now with 45 fit players the club is looking to field two full teams in the AFL and VFL this coming weekend.
With the long-awaited VFL debut of No. 7 draft pick Elijah Hollands, return from injury for exciting Category B rookie Hewago ‘Ace’ Oea and the highly anticipated club debut of the quarantined midseason rookie Ned Moyle, the club will more than likely be able to field an entire reserves side from its playing list.
This is a significant milestone for the young club because it shows the progress that was demanded from the AFL Commission at the end of the 2018 season in terms of reducing the number of injuries and building a more resilient list.
NBA Playoffs 2021: Devin Booker and Chris Paul sink Denver Nuggets as Phoenix Suns take commanding 3-0 lead
The Denver Nuggets are officially on the brink of elimination. Chris Paul and Devin Booker were once again the stars for the Phoenix Suns, with the No. 2 seed now taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.In the latest clinical performance from Monty Williams' squad, the back court duo of Devin Booker and Chris Paul once again starred to lead Phoenix to the 116-102 win.
However, injuries are still lingering after foundation Sun Rory Thompson ruptured his ACL in his good knee last year after missing 2019 with the same injury to the opposite knee, effectively wiping out his 2021 season and bringing his future into question.
The same injury cursed second-year Suns academy graduates Connor Budarick and Matt Conroy in the early rounds of this season. That came just before the bombshell that all Suns fans feared most: captain Jarrod Witts went down, and some were beginning to question why the club was suddenly suffering so many knee injuries.
And yet the fact of the matter is that all of these injuries were incurred in freakish accidents across a range of grounds and situations, with some coming during games and others during practice or match simulation. Perhaps most importantly, there appears to be no common denominator.
NBA MVP ejected as Suns sweep Nuggets in playoffs
The Suns roared into the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 11 years, while Nikola Jokic was ejected.Chris Paul scored 37 points and Devin Booker added 34 in a physical game marred by Jokic's ejection.
Furthermore, the players could not be in better hands with long-time Suns physiotherapist Alex Rigby managing the recovery and rehabilitation of the club’s injured players, having also worked in that role with the Melbourne Rebels and Cricket Australia.
From the time he became high-performance manager at the Suns in September 2018, Rigby has plotted the long-term fitness of the Suns list, both reducing injuries over the long term and increasing the team’s overall fitness loading.
Rigby has taken an extremely conservative approach to injury rehabilitation with some of the club’s stars, with Matt Rowell nursed through two key injuries and Izak Rankine red-shirted in his first year so that both could build a base of fitness to withstand the rigours of AFL.
Hollands is 16 months removed from his own ACL injury, with Suns medical staff taking a circumspect approach to getting him on the field given they inherited his rehabilitation nine months in and wanted him to take the extra months to tick every box in his recovery as well as prepare him for his first senior football match.
Basketball - NBA (Play-Offs): Phoenix still wins in Denver and qualifies for the
Conference Final © Panoramic NBA- Phoenix Suns at New York Knicks - Chris Paul - Devin Booker -26042021 Finalist of the West Conference The past season, Denver is eliminated from the semi-finals this year, after its fourth defeat in four games against Phoenix (118-125), which will play its first conference final since 2010.
Video: Scott with selection headache for blockbuster (Wide World of Sports)
Such a long-view approach to fitness and resilience has benefitted the players who are regularly playing week to week to the point where a player like Jack Bowes could return so quickly from a hamstring injury that might previously have put him out for over a month.
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The major benefit of the AFL, allowing the Suns to have an extended rookie list, is going to start to come to fruition this week, as the selectors have 90 per cent of the list to choose from. The VFL side will be the most stacked in the competition, with all spots taken by listed players.
The side will line up roughly like this:
B: Jy Farrar, Jack Hombsch, Jarrod Harbrow
HB: Jez McLennan, Caleb Graham, Aiden Fyfe
C: Jeremy Sharp, Will Brodie, Rory Atkins
HF: Elijah Hollands, Joel Jeffrey, Jacob Townsend
F: Josh Corbett, Patrick Murtagh, Malcolm Rosas Jnr
R: Ned Moyle, Brayden Fiorini, Alex Davies
Int: Hewago Paul-Oea, Darcy MacPherson, Jordan Murdoch, Luke Towey
Youngster hasn't lost AFL faith in Suns
Despite an embarrassing return to his home state last weekend, Gold Coast defender Wil Powell is adamant success is just around the corner for the AFL club.The happy-go-lucky 21-year-old was as deflated as anyone after the Suns' disappointing 27-point loss to an undermanned Fremantle in Perth last Saturday.
It cannot be underestimated that the Suns list suffered development-wise during COVID with the cancellation of the second-tier competition – yes, all clubs suffered developmentally, but the Suns were coming off a very low base – and this year’s truncated VFL season has seen the club field some substandard teams.
Unlike other clubs in the VFL, the Suns have chosen to continue to use their under-19s players as top-ups instead of recruiting VFL-only players, which has seen the club having to resort to 17-year-olds while the first-choice academy players were away on NAB League duties.
A full complement of players who can play in their chosen positions and build on-field relationships with players who they may be playing alongside in coming years at senior level is invaluable to development.
For Hollands and Moyle to come into a team that has been building synergy and goes into this weekend’s match-up with Aspley as favourites, suddenly the Suns look pretty good heading into their final 12 games.
So why is this so important? The Suns have 11 players who are yet to make their AFL debuts, nine of whom are playing VFL this week and several of whom are playing for their AFL careers alongside a group of veterans whose AFL careers are coming to an end.
More injuries will come, that is a given, but there are eight young Suns Academy players who have just been named in the Allies squad who have been gathering excellent experience playing VFL and NAB League that will now either go on to play in the National Championships or fill spots in the VFL or else play senior footy for their QAFL sides.
This year’s academy crop is the deepest yet, with tall forward Will Bella, pacy outside midfielder Austin Harris, key defender Jack Johnston, rebounding halfback Bodhi Uwland, damaging small forward Max Pescud, top-age ruckman Tom Hofert, VFL inside midfielder Bailey Reeves and squad bolter Brinn Little selected in the 39-player Allies squad, the largest contingent of all.
But the Suns have further access to NT players, such as key forward Ned Stevens, while they may also match a bid on Gold Coast local Jye Lockett – yes, Plugger’s nephew – who is playing for GWV Rebels in the NAB League.
While the senior team is currently underwhelming and results aren’t showing progression, the lower end of the list and potential future players has never looked better.
NBA: Suns / Clippers: Superstars Miss Game 2 .
Also Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals between the Phoenix Suns and the L.A. Clippers will take place without the two largest stars. This was announced by the teams in the night on Tuesday. © Provided by Spox Chris Paul will miss the Suns just like Kawhi Leonard on Clippers page in Game 2. Chris Paul is missing on the sides of the Suns, as he is in the Health and Safety Protocol of the NBA. When the 36-year-old will be available to his team again, is open.