Monday High 5: Suns Rise Over The East

Matthew JohnsonFebruary 15, 2021
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I keep thinking about the references in Game of Thrones to the long brutal winters that lasted nine or ten years and that’s kind of how I feel about the last decade of Phoenix Suns basketball (except there was no Ned Stark to warn Suns fans that winter was coming). The Suns are finally emerging from the long winter and are finally good again – and that tops our look at the biggest takeaways from the weekend in sports.

Suns on 6-game win streak.

Phoenix has beat up on some good and not-so-good Eastern Conference teams during its current 6-game win streak (all at home by the way). Devin Booker has led the way in nearly every game scoring 27 points in Sunday’s 109-90 win over Orlando, 36 on Saturday vs. Philadelphia, 30 in the comeback win over Milwaukee on Wednesday and 36 vs. Cleveland on Monday.

Big Takeaway: The Suns are winning these games at home in front of fans and they’re starting to pile up wins over some really good teams. It’s kind of a shock to the system to look at the standings and see the Phoenix Suns with the 5th best record in the entire NBA!

Spring training allowing limited fans.

It’s becoming more apparent each day that fans will be allowed to attend spring training games in 2021, but in much smaller numbers than we’re used to. Here’s where we stand on Monday, Feb. 15:

  • Salt River Fields, spring home to the Diamondbacks and Rockies, announced it will start selling tickets on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 10 a.m.
  • Goodyear Ballpark, home to the Indians and Reds, is opening its team shop next Monday, Feb. 22, finalizing ticket info for fans and have contracted with Saddle Mountain Brewing Company to sell Hop Fly IPA on draft at the ballpark.
  • MLB has approved the Giants plan to allow 750-1,000 fans inside Scottsdale Stadium for Cactus League games.
  • The Chicago Cubs are limiting capacity to 25 percent for games at Sloan Park in Mesa. Tickets go on sale Friday, Feb. 19 at noon.
  • The Oakland Athletics will start to sell tickets to games at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa beginning Thursday, Feb. 18 at 11 a.m.
  • 2,400 fans will be allowed inside Camelback Ranch in Glendale for L.A. Dodgers games, approximately 18% capacity. The Chicago White Sox, who also play in Glendale, will have the same number allowed. The Sox are selling tickets in pods of two, four or six seats.
  • The L.A. Angels are going with 25% capacity at Tempe Diablo Stadium, which is roughly 2,000 people.
  • Surprise Stadium has not announced a number, but there will be a limited number of tickets available for games for the two teams who play there: Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers.

Big Takeaway: This is a welcome sign for spring training baseball fans because just ten days ago, Salt River Fields postponed ticket sales amid uncertainty about coronavirus cases here in Arizona.

Cardinals await Fitz decision.

Is this the week we learn about Larry Fitzgerald’s future? The Arizona Cardinals wide receiver and face of the franchise has yet to indicate whether he’s coming back for another season, but in years past he typically makes up his mind around mid to late February. The Cardinals give him 11 million reasons to return year after year, but you have to wonder if that kind of money is on the table for a 37-year old wide receiver who caught 54 balls for 409 yards and one touchdown in 2020.

Big Takeaway: Given that Fitz had the least productive season of his 17-year NFL career, I’m willing to bet he’s going to take a lot longer this offseason to make up his mind. I wouldn’t be surprised if this story dragged into early March.

Coyotes singing the blues for a long time.

Later today, the Arizona Coyotes will play the finale of seven straight games against the St. Louis Blues. Previously scheduled games against Colorado and Minnesota were postponed due to COVID protocols and resulted in the Coyotes and Blues each having some open dates to fill. The NHL wisely adjusted the schedule and it resulted in seven straight games between these two clubs.

Big Takeaway: The Coyotes and Blues have split the first six games, so Monday’s afternoon affair in Glendale will have a fun Game 7 like feel to it. It would be cool to see them come up with some sort of trophy for the winner and lineup to shake hands after the game.

Bobby Hurley wins 100th game at ASU.

Wins and player availability have been tough to come by this season for the Sun Devils men’s basketball team (7-9 overall, 4-6 Pac-12), but they got a 75-73 win Sunday over Oregon State despite missing two starters: Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley. Remy Martin scored 23, Jaelen Graham posted a double-double and Alonzo Verge added 15 points to knock off the Beavers for the 12th straight time these two teams have met in Tempe.

Big Takeaway: Congrats to Bobby Hurley for reaching 100 wins as head coach at Arizona State. He’ll likely need to win four straight in the Pac-12 tournament in three weeks to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament via the automatic bid. Hurley will also likely need more of a cohesive lineup in March – ASU has used 8 different starting lineups in 16 games and only one player, Holland Woods, has played in all 16 games so far this season.

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