Connect with us

Phoenix Sports News

The Doom and Gloom of Recent Arizona Sports Scene

© Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Burn City Sports insiders Brendan Mau and Saleh Awwad also contributed to this opinionated story.

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!

The Phoenix Suns have lost three of their past four games. The Arizona Coyotes just snapped a three-game losing streak to start 2024. And let’s not forget, the Cardinals were 1:54 away from ending the season with a two-game winning streak up 20-13, them blow the leading, losing 21-20 to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

It has been difficult to be a local sports fan in the valley this year with the highest of highs being met with the lowest of lows. Because of this rough stretch surrounding the professional teams in Arizona, we broke down the simultaneous slumps of the Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes and how we feel about the teams we cover going forward.

Phoenix Suns

Brendan: Fans are growing more and more impatient with this Phoenix Suns’ team that had the fourth-best odds to win the NBA Finals entering this season. The Suns are now a play-in team 37 games in and in the ninth spot in the Western Conference with a 19-18 record. The organization finally brought a superteam to Devin Booker, surrounding him with two of the most premiere scorers in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal.

Yet, the Suns have only played in six games with all three of them healthy so far and are 2-4 in those games now after dropping two straight with the trio all playing. They blew a late 13-point lead Sunday night to lose 121-115 to the Memphis Grizzlies, and then were absolutely embarrassed in Los Angeles by the Clippers last night, as LA won 138-111. These results came after a stretch in which the team had won five of its last six games.

The Suns are pretty much middle of the pack in most statistical categories, as their record also reflects, but there is one glaring problem with the team: its fourth quarter performances. On Sunday, they were outscored 35-18 in the final period, while last night the Clippers won the fourth quarter 37-20.

Take a look at all of these stats on just how bad the team has been to close out games:

Coach Frank Vogel has attributed this play to the lack of continuity of having players available and finding the right role players to surround the stars with. However, the Suns have done just fine in every other quarter.

Even after last night, Vogel and all of the players have not lost any confidence in what the team can do. 

“We’ve got a roster that can win,” Vogel said. “We believe in it. It’s gonna take time, still six games with (the Big 3) playing together. A lot of those games role players have been been in and out. It’s a long season.”

If the Suns keep this performance up even while healthy, it will not bode well at all with fans. The NBA trade deadline is on Feb. 8, so there could be a lot of moves coming out of Phoenix soon if the Suns don’t right the ship.

Arizona Coyotes

Alec: Before the recent struggles of the Coyotes, they were 12-5 at Mullett Arena, one of the best home records of any team in the NHL. Adding on top of the fact that they were 4-0 in their last four games in Tempe, including a massive 5-4 comeback victory over the Colorado Avalanche, the vibes around the team have went from joyous, to depressed and now relieved.

In the losses to the Florida Panthers 4-1, New York Islanders 5-1 and the Winnipeg Jets 6-2, there were two common themes that kept plaguing the Coyotes:

  1. Giving up three goals in the third period – diminishing any hope of a potential comeback.
  2. Not taking the lead at any point – trailing from behind and ultimately being unable to get back into the game.

Arizona were only down 1-0 to Florida through two periods, but the Panthers scored two goals in a 0:42 span. The Islanders did the same with two in 0:52 apart and the Jets just manhandled the Coyotes in a blowout.

Yes, the Jets (27-9-4) are currently the best team in the NHL, the Panthers (26-12-2) are still a strong force despite losing in the Stanley Cup Finals last season and the Islanders (18-12-10) continue to frustrate their opponents with their defensive style of play.

But the NHL season is edging closer to the halfway mark, the time when games mean more and begin to have serious implications on the line. Arizona are 10th in the Western Conference as things stand, though they are one point off of a Wildcard spot.

The Coyotes did beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime last night, and should give them a boost going forward.

“We needed it (the win),” Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz said. “We were on a little bit of a skid there, three in a row. It was a tough stretch for us in January here. We know it’s kinda make or break for us, so we are trying to do everything we can to make points this month and put us in a good spot going into the (All-Star) break.”

Arizona Cardinals

Saleh: The Arizona Cardinals had an unsurprising 2023-24 season. Fans of the team went into the year with extremely low expectations and for a good reason. The Cardinals finished with a 4-13 record, putting them right in between the 3.5/4.5 win totals they had heading into the season.

Something that fans were disappointed in was the draft picks the team has ended with. Before the season, the Cardinals were projected to finish with two top-five draft picks at the very least. Their own draft pick ended as the fourth overall in the 2024 draft. However, their draft pick acquired from Houston will be anywhere from No. 19-32 depending on the Texans’ playoff success.

The team will now shift their focus to the off-season where they own two first-round picks and have over $60 million in cap space. It is evident that many holes need to be filled on this roster, however, Arizona has the resources to do so in the coming months.

While there were continuous disappointments from the Cardinals this season, there were also some positives that fans can look forward to.

Head coach Jonathan Gannon proved that he can lead this team to tough victories when the roster’s healthy.

Quarterback Kyler Murray once again showcased his elite playmaking ability despite missing more than half the season, solidifying himself as the team’s franchise QB going forward.

Running back James Conner is another guy who impressed to end the season. The 28-year-old rushed for over 1,000 yards in just 13 games played.

It is without a doubt that the Cardinals have continued to disappoint fans year after year. The team needs to put together an excellent off-season and get back in the playoff picture next season.

*Get the BEST Phoenix sports insider information, exclusive content, and access to our seasonal magazines! SIGN UP HERE to unlock our premium content!*

Alec Cipollini, Brendan Mau and Saleh Awwad are reporters for Burn City Sports. You can follow them on their X accounts @AlecCipollini, @brendan_mau and @salehawwad_

More in Phoenix Sports News