KEY POINTS

  • Mikal Bridges is on pace for an All-Defensive Team selection after shutting down both James Harden and Stephen Curry
  • Curry had the worst shooting night of his career in the Warriors-Suns game last Tuesday
  • Bridges' massive deal extension is showing its value for the Suns this season

Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges is proving that he should be named to an All-Defensive team this season thanks to back-to-back outings against the Brooklyn Nets and the Golden State Warriors.

Bridges made James Harden work for his triple-double in their November 27 game as the 25-year-old limited him to just 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the field and seven turnovers.

In the Suns’ most recent matchup against the Warriors on Tuesday, November 30, Bridges had only one job: to prevent Stephen Curry from putting up massive numbers.

Bridges was certainly up to the task as he shut down the best shooter in NBA history for the better part of 36 minutes.

Scoring 12 points on 4-of-21 shooting and 3-of-14 from the three-point line, Bridges forced Curry into the worst shooting night of his 13-year career. 

Meanwhile, Bridges tallied four steals and a block in 41 minutes of action.

When asked about how he was able to prevent Curry from exploding, Bridges humbly responded that it was a team effort.

"What I really did was just be aggressive and be attached with a lot of screens and a lot of slips. But it's a whole team thing because if one guy messes up on the switch, there's a slip or a 3 for him [Stephen Curry]. It's a team effort,” Bridges remarked as quoted by NBC Sports.

So impressed were basketball fans of Bridges’ performance against the Warriors that fans on Reddit have given him a new nickname: “Mikalcatraz”.

A play on his first name and the prison island in San Francisco Bay, it was a perfect analogy as Curry seemed like he was stuck on Alcatraz with Bridges for the entire time he was on the floor.

Suns head coach Monty Williams played Bridges when Curry was on the floor and rested him when the Warriors star was on the bench.

It was a smart and tactical decision that favored the Suns, limiting the Warriors to their lowest scoring output this season at just 96 points while extending their NBA-best winning streak to 17 games to tie a franchise record.

Bridges has grown into such a major piece that subscription-based stats site Cleaning the Glass pegs the Suns to win 69 games when he plays.

His run of performances against Harden and Curry have justified the four-year, $91 million deal that he signed in the offseason.

Barring injury or being placed under the NBA’s health and safety protocols for COVID-19, Bridges is on pace for an All-Defense First Team nod if he continues playing this well against the league’s elite scorers.

The Suns look to extend the winning streak to 18 games as they face the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, December 2.