Phoenix Suns at the Sacramento Kings Preview - Time for Some Road Rage

Jared Dudley = Eye of the tiger : Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

The Phoenix Suns begin their three-game road trip in Sacramento to start things off against the Kings. It's time for some road rage -- there is no room for error as the Suns currently sit two games out of a playoff spot and the team rhetoric as of late is that the playoffs have already started for the Suns. Every game from here on out is a playoff game -- because every game matters that much when it comes to making the post-season.

"We know that we are going to have to play well and we are going to have games that we have to win and a lot of those games are going to be on the road," coach Alvin Gentry said. "For us, (Sunday was) our first playoff game and we get on a plane and fly to Sacramento and that will be our next playoff game. I think that's the way we have to approach it."

The Sacramento Kings are one spot from the very bottom of the Western Conference. If the Suns are going to make the playoffs this is a game that they absolutely must win.

That being said, the Kings are playing well as of late and by that I mean they beat the Timberwolves* pretty bad last night and actually looked like a team while doing it. Check the recap over at Sactown Royalty for more about it.

*The Timberwolves are in a dark place though - so, eh.

Tonight will be a familiar battle - Keeping DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson off the glass (especially the O-Boards), make Tyreke Evans a Jump Shooter by preventing him from driving the lane so easily and keep close tabs on their sharpshooters - especially Thornton.

MATCH-UPS

Steve Nash - Isaiah Thomas

Shannon Brown - Tyreke Evans

Jared Dudley - Marcus Thornton*

Channing Frye - Jason Thompson

Marcin Gortat - DeMarcus Cousins

* Thorton left last night's game after taking a Luke Ridnour front roundhouse kick to the calf. He's got a bruised muscle so we'll see what happens. He's officially listed as day-to-day.

EUTY-KEYS

This is what I'm going to be watching for tonight -

  • More Production from Jared Dudley - He did well Sunday scoring 21, but the team needs him to again find his stroke and consistency offensively, with Grant Hill out there is no other choice for Dudz.
  • Win the battle of the Glass - Rebounding is important or something.
  • Limit the points in the paint - Jason Thompson is a known and well documented "Suns-Killer" and DeMarcus Cousins seems to always have amazing games against us. I'd point out that his only Flagrant Foul of the season (so far) was against the Suns, so I'm sure he'll be fired up and ready to make a whole bunch of mean faces and
  • Contain the Rookie - Isaiah Thomas has won the Western Conference Rookie of the month for his second month in a row. Crazy - he was drafted 60th last year. That's last, as in that's 59 other kids chosen before him - do you hear the words that are coming out of my mouth? (*Chris Tucker Voice) Thomas lead all Western Conference rookies in March with 12.2 ppg and was 2nd in assists with 4.4. He is very small, but lightning fast and gritty.
  • Contain the old Rookie - Tyreke Evans was 2010's rookie of the year... and with Grant Hill out and unable put the defensive vice-grips on the young fella it's going to be a stiff job for Jared Dudley and/or Shannon Brown to keep this raging Bull out of the paint. Good help defense and rotations can do the trick to force Evans to shoot rather than drive - but he'll drive anyways. Hopefully they can keep him around the perimeter.
  • Don't trail going into the 4th quarter - The Kings are 10-0 at home when entering the 4th quarter with a lead. Nuff' said.

Check out more over at SB Nation AZ -

When all is said and done - this is most definitely a must win game for the Phoenix Suns.

LET'S GET IT ON.

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