Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena; Phoenix, AZ
When: 7:00 PM, Arizona Time
Watch: Fox Sports AZ (Locally)/NBA League Pass
The Phoenix Suns are coming off of a two-game losing skid, one of which was already to the New Orleans Pelicans on the road in NOLA. However, the Suns played relatively well overall in that game, losing to a mostly healthy Pelicans team in which Anthony Davis returned to his elite ways, scoring 32 points and grabbing 19 rebounds to go along with his 4 blocks. It also didn't help that Ryan Anderson caught fire as well, scoring 29 points on 8/14 shooting, including 4/7 from beyond the arc.
The game against the Spurs on the road was a different story though. Without Eric Bledsoe who was out because of stiffness in his knee, the Suns struggled mightily to take care of the ball and find on-court inspiration and energy. Brandon Knight had a decent enough game, scoring 18 points on 7/15 shooting and 8 assists. But the Suns missed Bledsoe's hustle plays, especially on defense, to get crucial stops and force San Antonio to turn the ball over. Instead, the Suns took care of that themselves, committing an atrocious, season-high 28 turnovers on sloppy possessions and bad passes. You simply can't beat a team like the Spurs, especially on the road, playing like that.
At any rate, all indications are that Bledsoe will be back for this one, and they will need him. There's little doubt now that Bledsoe is the heart and soul of this team. He's proven to be the best all-around player and the engine that drives the Suns. Phoenix will need their marquee player to step up big tonight in order to get the win.
As for New Orleans, Anthony Davis will almost certainly get his, but the Suns need to do a better job of preventing the ancillary players to get hot as well. In addition, the Suns can't count on another good game from Markieff Morris, who suddenly came to life against the Spurs. They're going to need their talented backcourt tandem to carry the load for this one.
The Suns are back at home tonight, and had one day of rest after their back-to-back losses in NOLA. I think with a healthy-ish Bledsoe and Knight both playing, Phioenix should be able to get this win. Again, Anthony Davis will probably be terrific. But I don't foresee another 29 point game from Ryan Anderson, even though he's been hot lately. And, I don't think Eric Gordon will be able to hit another five threes...at least I hope not. If the Suns can count on around 50 points from their starting backcourt, and also get somewhat decent contributions from their bench, I think they can get this win tonight.
They'll certainly need it, as the only other home game for the next couple weeks is this Friday vs. the Warriors, who look almost unbeatable right now. The Suns need to get this win before embarking on a very tough road trip thereafter. I think they understand the importance, and will play like it.
Suns win 107-101.